Biosecurity must be upheld if grains are imported into Australia

New South Wales grain growers are calling for maximum vigilance from border authorities as consideration is given to importing international grain into New South Wales because of the drought.

NSW Farmers’ Grains Committee chair, Matthew Madden, said with forecasted grain harvests in New South Wales down to 25 per cent of the level harvested two years ago, growers are anxious to ensure that the state’s reputation for growing high-quality, disease free grain is not jeopardised in a rush to import grain from other states and overseas.

“NSW Farmers wants assurances from authorities that they will vigilantly enforce strict protocols established around the importation of grain to protect our industry’s biosecurity and reputation,” Mr Madden said.

“In particular, we would be concerned if grain was allowed to be imported from a country with known biosecurity risks not present in Australia.  Our domestic grain industry is free of many pests found in other nations – importing grain is the fastest way for a disease not present in Australia to arrive here and take hold, potentially devastating our multi-billion dollar grains industry.

“In a time of drought we must be even more vigilant about protecting our natural competitive advantage which sees this nation free of many of the plant pests and diseases found in other places.

“We cannot afford to take a ‘she will be right’ approach to the importation of grain.  Properly treating the grain at the point of import, thereby reducing the potential for biosecurity risks to take hold, is essential to the future of the Australian grains industry.”

Mr Madden said grain imports from international markets should only be undertaken where there is a demonstrated shortage of grain stocks in Australia.

“At present, without a functioning grain stocks reporting market, neither the farmer, the trader nor the end user knows just how much grain is in Australia at any time, what type it is and where it is located.  This results in decisions being made in a vacuum.

“NSW Farmers has long supported the need for a robust, national grain stocks reporting system.  Given that grain is being imported from Western or South Australia for use in New South Wales, this present drought should be a catalyst to see this system implemented for the good of our industry going forward,” Mr Madden concluded.

Date: Monday 15 October 2018
Media Contact:   Kathleen Curry   | 0429 011 690