The state government has announced its seeking an urgent investigation by the Western Australian government to certify that green snail pest is not prevalent in the northern wheat belt, to ensure SA farmers who source hay supplies from the region are not at risk.
Green snail is found in parts of WA and presents a significant risk to SA's environment and agricultural industries.
Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone has written to WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan after concerns were raised by multiple drought-affected farmers.
"Green snail is currently regulated under the SA Plant Quarantine Standard and currently consignments of hay may only enter the state from WA if they meet stringent conditions to mitigate the risk posed," Mr Whetstone said.
"No one wants to see biosecurity compromised to the long-term detriment of our industries to address short-term drought pressures," he said.
"However, due to the shortage of fodder for livestock feed, I've written to Minister MacTiernan asking her to undertake urgent investigations that would enable officials to certify green snail is not prevalent in the northern wheat belt of WA."
Mr Whetstone said industry had advised that green snail was not known in the wheat belt, but advice the department from WA officials indicated there was no evidence green snail was absent from the wheat belt.
He said the frustrations of drought-affected farmers when hay is restricted from entering SA were understood but also acknowledged the ramifications if a pest such as green snail was brought in.
"I cannot emphasise enough the importance of protecting South Australia from the significant impact a pest such as green snail could have on local horticultural and broad acre farming industries if the species were to become established here," Mr Whetstone said.
"It is important this state remains vigilant when it comes to biosecurity threats," he said.
"In saying that, we need to do everything we can to support our farmers who are facing a shortage of fodder and feed for livestock.
"If we can bring in hay from interstate with the appropriate treatment and certification, then we do not put other farmers at risk from a biosecurity incursion."