Farmers urge caution on grain imports
The VFF Grains Group is urging extreme caution and vigilance be applied to ensure biosecurity integrity is upheld by border authorities and anybody considering importing grains into Australia from other countries.
With Victoria’s grain harvest expected to be down significantly this year as a result of a lack of rainfall, late season frosts in some areas and difficult spring conditions, VFF Grains Group President Ross Johns said it is critical to ensure the state’s grains industry is not placed at risk by a rush to import grain from overseas.
“While the VFF is not opposed to grain imports, imported fodder and grain can pose a significant biosecurity risk to both the grains and livestock industries. For example, foot and mouth disease was introduced into Japan by imported fodder,” said Mr Johns.
“The VFF is urging extreme caution in relation to grains imported into Australia, and is steadfastly opposed to any changes to biosecurity or import protocols which would diminish current requirements.
“In particular, we must not allow grain to be imported into Australia from countries which are known to have a biosecurity risk not present here.
“A biosecurity incursion could cause immeasurable damage to Australia’s multi-billion dollar agriculture industry. It is crucial that we protect the long-term viability of Australian grain and hay producers.
“In addition, the VFF Grains Group would like assurances from Minister Littleproud that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will be strictly enforcing existing protocols around the importation of grain.
“Grain trans-shipped from other Australian states, such as Western Australia, is also subject to biosecurity requirements and given the volume of grain that has moved from WA into eastern states, this process is clearly working.
“The drought also highlights the issue of grain supply in Australia, which reporting on stock levels would go a long way to addressing.
“It’s a complex issue but transparency of stock levels across the country may eliminate any talk of imports completely.”
Ross Johns, Victorian Farmers Federation Grains President, 0417 909 225
Andrew MacDonald, Stakeholder Media & Communications Advisor, 0418 282 875