EXPORT markets could collapse like a house of cards with the local citrus industry obliterated if the state government turns its back on funding the fruit fly fight, a Griffith citrus leader has claimed.
It comes after the government hurled a policy grenade on the MIA this week, scrapping almost $2 million in annual funding to help growers keep out Queensland fruit fly.
The move is likely to see the fruit fly exclusion zone dismantled, with the responsibility to keep the microscopic pest out falling on residents and farmers.
Sue Brighenti, former fruit fly spokeswoman for Riverina Citrus and one of the region's largest packers and growers, said the industry had been plunged into a hell of its own making.
"We told growers if Riverina Citrus went, we would be in this position, but they just accused us of scare-mongering," Mrs Brighenti said.
"We knew three years ago the government was moving towards this. We accepted that we would have to start paying for some things like road blocks and pulling trees out.
"But we had convinced the minister to allow us a three or four-year transition period where we could put in a plan for alternate market access that would be less expensive and less involved.
"When Riverina Citrus went, that agreement went and now the government wants out they don't want to pay for anything."
The Department of Primary Industries would now be likely to fund just one person, one day a week to check fruit fly traps, she said.
The government bail-out meant the US market, which only takes fruit fly exclusion zone fruit and accounts for more than a third of local exports, could be lost.
"The US market underpins a lot of this area and if we lose our pest-free area status, that's all in jeopardy," Mrs Brighenti said.
"If the US made the decision to suspend our fruit, then a lot of the other markets might follow suit and it could fall like dominoes.
"At the moment, we're in dire straits with too much fruit on the local market due to the high Aussie dollar to lose the US market could be devastating.
"I doubt my business would survive."
Murrumbidgee MP Adrian Piccoli said he had been approached by a number of people who were interested in taking over management of fruit fly eradication and control and he would do "everything" he could to help them.
"It really is a critical issue," he said.
"I understand Riverina Citrus had money left over so I want to make sure a large chunk of that goes to fruit fly management."