Michelle Edge has been appointed Chief Executive of Primary Industries and Regions SA and brings valuable experience in biosecurity to the role.
Before joining PIRSA, Michelle was CEO of the industry-government partnership organisation for Primary Industries New Zealand, Operational Solutions. In this role, Michelle led policy and programs in biosecurity, pest and disease management, wildlife management, animal health and livestock traceability.
Between 2010 and 2014 Michelle was CEO of the Australian Meat Processor Corporation RDC, where she was responsible for driving services in sustainability, market access, climate change, productivity, food safety, marketing and technology.
Michelle has also held various senior roles in the Victorian Government in areas of biosecurity, animal health and welfare, productivity, market access and industry development.
Michelle said protecting South Australian vineyards from the vine killer phylloxera was a key biosecurity priority.
“South Australia is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world. Grapegrowers are familiar with the biggest threat to these vines, phylloxera, a tiny insect which could cause devastating damage to South Australia as it did in Europe and North America,” Michelle said.
“Preserving our wine regions’ valuable and vulnerable vineyards and protecting them from phylloxera is the key biosecurity priority for the entire South Australian wine industry and is a protection that we work very hard to maintain.
“PIRSA works closely with Vinehealth Australia to ensure appropriate regulatory compliance and that the industry has the tools, protocols and knowledge to ensure the ongoing viability of these majestic old vineyards.”
Michelle said, more broadly, water security for grapegrowers was a key priority. “The drought has had a big impact on the profitability and health of the vineyards in some of our key regions such as Barossa and Clare Valley,” she said.
“We will continue to work with other government departments and industry to ensure the long-term viability of these regions and secure water for winemaking generations to come.
“And of course, COVID-19 has had a big impact across the entire wine industry supply chain. Getting locals and interstate tourists back to our regions once travel and cellar door trading restrictions are lifted will be a big boost to the industry.”
Michelle said COVID-19 had also impacted the wine industry’s workforce too, with fewer backpackers and interstate visitors available for seasonal roles.
In response, the South Australia Government has launched a website to promote seasonal work opportunities and to match-make workers with jobs, including vine pruning work in South Australian vineyards.
“I encourage vineyard owners to list any available seasonal roles – it’s completely free and we’ll reach out across our regions and networks to help fill your gaps,” Michelle said.
Michelle said her vision for PIRSA was to deliver effective public sector service in collaboration with State and Commonwealth agencies, partner agencies, industry sectors, stakeholders, end users and SA communities.
“I applaud the primary sector businesses for their leadership and resilience during these challenging times and providing the SA, Australian and international communities with essential goods and services,” she said.
Michelle is passionate about agriculture and holds a Bachelor Degree with Honours in Agricultural Science from University of Melbourne, where she also undertook research in her early career.