Illegal garlic imports that put Australia's agricultural sector at risk have landed a Tasmanian farmer and industry head an 11-month jail sentence.
Former chair of the Australian Garlic Industry Association and farmer Letetia Anne Ware, 53, imported almost 2200 garlic bulbs from the United States and Canada.
The varieties of garlic were potential carriers of Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium rated the biggest threat to national plant biosecurity.
Ware made 21 separate garlic imports over an 18-month period, on one occasion instructing suppliers to falsely label the garlic as gardening supplies.
One shipment was intercepted and destroyed by officials in October 2015 and Ware was subsequently given a warning letter by officials.
She then criticised her suppliers for not mis-labelling the product as she'd asked.
Ware was aware of the processes surrounding biosecurity as she had held import permits for mushrooms but never one for garlic, Justice Gregory Geason said during sentencing on Tuesday in the Hobart Supreme Court.
"(Your) conduct created risk to all agricultural activity," he said.
Ware last week pleaded guilty to 10 charges including aggravated illegal importation of plant material and resigned as chair of Australian Garlic Industry Association.
"The board strongly condemns any behaviour that jeopardises biosecurity or the Australian agricultural industry," the association said in a statement.
Ware will be eligible for release after two months, provided she enters into a $2000 recognisance and be on good behaviour for three years.
Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie lauded the punishment.
"The penalties handed down ... send a clear message that there are severe repercussions for those who break the rules," she said in a statement.
"Tasmania's produce is coveted across the world for its clean, green, safe credentials."
Xylella fastidiosa, which originated in the Americas, blocks the ability of plants to take up water and has reportedly wiped out one million olive trees in Italy.
Australian Associated Press