Importing plant-based animal feed

The major types of plant based animal feed are hay, processed stockfeed, pet food and bulk grain. ​​ Learn more about importing bulk grain.

Imported animal feed poses a high biosecurity risk. It can provide a direct pathway for exotic pests and diseases that can harm humans, animals, crops and the environment.

Diseases that can be spread through animal feed include:

If introduced, they could devastate our livestock industries, have a significant impact on our grains industries, harm the natural environment and damage Australia’s reputation as an exporter.

Hay or fodder imports

Hay has never been imported into Australia for stockfeed.

It poses a high biosecurity risk. This means any import conditions we set to reduce these risks would be very strict, making them likely to be prohibitively expensive.

Domestic alternatives

There are domestic alternatives available. Check with your state or territory government for advice on sourcing local stockfeed.

Some states and territories restrict the movement of stockfeed from interstate locations to limit the risk of spreading pests and diseases.

Be aware of these requirements before you buy.

Check biosecurity restrictions in your state or territory.

Before you import

You must apply for an import permit for all animal feed, regardless of quantity. You must have this permit before you ship consignments to Australia.

You must provide extensive technical information to support your application.

We assess each import application against our long established policies, applying strict requirements to manage the risks. We will only permit the import if we are confident the risks can be managed.

Make sure you understand the following assessment and risk management processes for the type of animal feed you are importing.

See our infographic on importing processed plant-based animal feed for a simplified look at the end-to-end permit application process.

Apply for a permit

You must have a permit to import any plant-based animal feed into Australia, including processed stockfeed and pet food.

To apply for a permit:

  1. Check the import conditions in our Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON):
  2. Complete the production questionnaire.
  3. Submit your production questionnaire with your import permit application in the BICON system.

When we receive your application, we will:

  • check that all information is supplied and assess the application
  • decide if any audits are required
  • advise you of the outcome of our assessment.

We will only assess your application when you have supplied all required information.

When we audit

Some plant-based animal feed applications require completed desk audit questionnaires (Manufacturers questionnaire; Offsite storage, containerisation and export facilities questionnaire). This includes:

  • Soybean meal
  • Palm kernel expeller
  • Copra meal
  • Corn Gluten Meal
  • Dried Distillers grains
  • Sugar beet pulp
  • Protein meals
  • Wheat bran or millrun
  • Canola meal
  • Cottonseed meal.

Other risk factors may also influence when we audit.

We audit to ensure risks with importing the animal feed are reduced at every step of the import pathway. This includes:

  • size of the overseas farm
    • small farms with limited mechanical production are a higher risk than broad acre farms using mechanical production and harvesting
  • country health status
    • countries with and/or plant animal diseases of concern are a higher risk than countries without
  • temperature and time
    • the degree of thermal processing is an important step in mitigating risk
    • grain heated at low temperature is a higher risk than grain heated over 1000C
  • high risk material on site
    • animal-based materials stored at the manufacturing facility
    • sharing production line with other raw material
  • exposure of product to contaminants during storage and shipping
    • bird faeces and vermin
    • packaging — large bags
    • export pathway — bulk in container, in ship’s hold
  • history of non-compliance
    • suspension of import permit
    • non-conformance from previous audits.

Audit process

Desk audit:

Takes approximately 1-5 days, when all required information is supplied.

  1. Our auditors check that facilities are managing biosecurity risks to acceptable levels. Areas we audit include:
    • country biosecurity status
    • crop production methods
    • transport
    • processing method (temperatures and duration)
    • post processing integrity to limit contamination
    • export loading pathways.
  2. Results are provided to the assessment team.

If an onsite audit is also needed, it will likely be undertaken around 6 weeks after completion of the desk audit. During this time we will:

  • source travel quotes and fee estimates
  • draft the service agreement
  • seek travel approvals
  • make offshore arrangements
  • make any bookings
  • complete the audit brief, plans and criteria.

Onsite audit:

Typically takes 1-5 days.

  1. We audit offshore manufacturing and export pathways.
  2. The importer pays all associated costs.
  3. If we find no non-conformances, we will issue a draft import permit. Before issuing the permit we will inform domestic stakeholders of the proposed import, excluding any confidential information. If we find non-conformances, you will need to remedy them and provide evidence they have been fixed. We may need to conduct another audit as part of this process.

Assessment decision

If we approve your application, we will send you a draft import permit with conditions that need to be met.

When you accept the draft and agree to the conditions you will be issued a permit. The permit will be valid for two years.

In some cases it may not be possible to meet the required conditions. In this case a permit will not be issued.

Assessment fees and charges

All time spent assessing an import permit (including desk audits) is cost recovered.

There is a scheduled fee of $120 (electronic lodgement) plus a $360 assessment fee. The assessment fee covers the first 3 hours of your assessment. Extra assessment time is charged at $30 per ¼ hour.

See our charging guidelines for more details.

To minimise assessment charges, please ensure all the information you provide is accurate.

You will be responsible for some or all of the costs associated with any site inspection. For overseas site inspections, this includes airfares, accommodation, meals and fee for service costs.

Need help?

Email the Imports team or call 1800 900 090.

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Last reviewed: 31 March 2020
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