2020-13 - Plant Export Operations – Disruptions to services to plant export industry

25 March 2020

Purpose

This Industry Advice Notice (IAN) is to advise industry of disruptions to services as a result of measures being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Summary of changes and key points

  • To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is implementing changes to the way we conduct our business. Consequently, a number of the services we provide to the plant export industry will be impacted.

  • Industry can expect to experience general delays in the responsiveness of department staff during this time. This will include our ability to take and return phone calls, respond to emails and action requests. 

  • The department will continue to

    • issue phytosanitary certificates
    • assist with detained consignments
    • assist with phytosanitary certification and related issues
    • action change of destination requests
    • action post-sail authorisation requests
    • support incident management activities
    • address non-compliance issues

  • Department staff will be unable to attend face-to-face industry meetings and workshops.

  • Overseas National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs) will be unable to travel to Australia to conduct verification activities. 

    Note: The department is investigating alternate mechanisms to facilitate trade, should trading partners be unable to facilitate verification activities.

Authorised Officers   

  • The Authorised Officer (AO) hotline (1800 851 305) will continue to be answered.

  • Enquiries sent through the Plant Export Training mailbox will continue to be actioned.

  • Regional Assurance Manager (RAM) visits, including authorised officer post-assessment visits, reappointment visits and registered establishment assurance visits will be conducted via teleconference, and not face-to-face.

  • All RAM forums have been cancelled.

  • Only business critical face-to-face training and assessment for AOs will be conducted.

    Note: The department is investigating alternate methods for conducting AO training and assessment. If you have a business critical need for this service, please email Plant Export Training or phone the AO hotline and we will risk assess your request.     

  • Plant export inspections will continue to be conducted by the department’s Inspections Group.

Systems

Horticulture exports

  • Enquiries sent through the Horticulture Exports  mailbox will continue to be actioned.

  • Protocol market accreditation applications for farms, pack houses and treatment facilities will be impacted.

    Note: The department is working with operational staff and peak industry bodies to determine how we will continue to assess these applications and will advise respective industries separately.

  • Exports through protocol pathways may be impacted to varying degrees, depending on individual country-to-country interim arrangements.  

Grain and seed exports

  • The Grain hotline (02 6272 3229) will continue to be answered.

  • Enquiries sent through the Grain and Seed Exports mailbox will continue to be actioned.

  • Veterinary Health Certificate requests will continue to be processed.

  • Applications for the Australia Wood Packaging Certification Scheme, Mobile Bulk Loading and new export pathways will continue to be actioned.

  • The department will be unable to approve new

  • anchorages for bulk vessel inspections

  • export compliant goods storages.

Audits

  • On-site audits will be impacted.

    Note: The department is investigating alternate methods for conducting audits, that do not involve on-site visits.    

Background

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that originated in the Hubei province of China, and has since been declared pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

The Australian Government through the Department of Health has developed a collection of resources for the general public and industry about COVID-19, with recommendations for reducing the spread of the virus. Social distancing and restricting non-essential public gatherings are two of the recommended measures.

Further information regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on the operations of the department can be found on the department’s COVID-19 website.

Contact information

For further information regarding this IAN, please contact the relevant program:

David Ironside
Assistant Secretary
Plant Export Operations Branch

Last reviewed: 25 March 2020
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