Managing the biosecurity risks of imported bulk grain

Government and industry share responsibility for managing the biosecurity risk associated with importing bulk grain. Risks are managed at each step of the import journey, from the offshore farm to the processing facility in Australia.

Find out how:

  • we assess the risks before issuing a permit
  • the risks are managed under any permits we issue

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Step 1: Deciding to import

An Australian business may choose to import bulk grain for a range of commercial reasons. This may be due to product specifications or to meet shortfalls due to low domestic production.

Step 2: Applying for a permit

The importer contacts us to discuss the import. Then the importer applies for a permit.

Step 3: Assessing the offshore risks

Our scientists assess the biosecurity risks of importing from the proposed source country. They verify the presence or absence of pests or diseases of biosecurity concern and pest control practices. They also check the systems in place for producing, harvesting, storing, transporting and processing grain destined for export. The scientists recommend ways for reducing the risks to provide the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia.

Step 4: Assessing the application

We audit the proposed onshore facilities, systems and processes. We verify that the proposed strategies can manage the associated risks to a very low level and provide feedback to the applicant. The applicant may need to update their proposed Process Management System and Site Operations Manual accordingly.

Step 5: Application decision

We will issue a permit only if we are is confident that the applicant’s proposed management strategies can reduce the biosecurity risks along the entire import journey to a very low level. The permit includes conditions the importer must meet to manage those risks. This includes the requirement to:

  • source from low risk countries
  • ensure cleanliness and control any spillage and dust during transport, storage and processing.

Permit conditions are legally enforceable.

Ongoing: Regulating the import

Once a permit is issued, we will verify that the importer is meeting the requirements of the permit at each step during the importation.

We may intervene at any time to stop activity or require it to be done differently.

We can also suspend, vary or cancel the permit or approved arrangement at any time.

Step 6: Sourcing

The importer must source the grain from the area and country stated in the permit we have issued.

Step 7: Handling and transport in the source country

Equipment and transport systems used to move the grain from the farm to the point of loading at the port must all be free from pests and animal material of biosecurity concern.

The grain must be loaded at the port stated in the permit.

The importer must provide a supplier’s declaration and government certification to show they have met these conditions.

Step 8: Pre-export

Both the grain and the ship used for transporting must be inspected by the exporting country’s government. They must be certified as free of live insects and foreign materials of biosecurity concern.

The importer must provide this certification as evidence they have met this condition.

Step 9: Arrival in Australia

The grain must remain secured in the ship’s hold until our biosecurity officers have inspected and taken samples of the grain.

They will only allow the grain to be discharged from the ship if it meets Australia’s import requirements.

Step 10: Onshore storage of the grain

The grain must be stored under biosecurity control at a facility authorised by us (approved arrangement).

A Site Operations Manual we have approved must be in place for the facility outlining the processes for managing the grain within the site.

Step 11: Transport to processing facility

The grain must be transported along department-approved routes and tracked from discharge at the port to the processing facility. The grain must be securely transported to minimise leakage and dust in accordance with the importer’s Process Management System document.

The importer must record all grain movements and provide us with daily grain weight reconciliations.

Step 12: Onshore processing

The grain must be handled and processed to reduce plant and animal biosecurity risks as outlined in the importer’s Site Operations Manual.

The processed product can only be:

  • released after the approved facility has demonstrated that the conditions of the permit have been met
  • used for purposes approved by us.

Step 13: Decommissioning of onshore facilities

At the end of the import program, the storage and processing facilities must be comprehensively cleaned to prevent future cross contamination from the imported grain. The cleaning processes must be approved by us prior to doing the work.

The storage and processing of domestic grain can only commence once we have inspected and approved the decommissioned facilities.

Download the infographic

Department of Agriculture, August 2019

DocumentPagesFile size
Importing bulk grain infographic PDF11.7 MB

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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