Importing plant-based animal feed

The major types of plant-based animal feed are hay, processed stockfeed, pet food, aquaculture feed 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.

We work with industry offshore, at the border and onshore in Australia to manage the associated risks with imported animal feed to keep our biosecurity protected.

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.

Where we determine the risks associated with certain imported animal feed can’t be sufficiently reduced through processing offshore, we may permit further processing onshore at an approved arrangement class 3.0.  

Learn more about applying for an approved arrangement class 3.0.       

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 and the production questionnaire
  • 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

We will need to audit offshore manufacturing facilities and export pathways for imported processed stockfeed and their ingredients, such as:

  • Soybean meal
  • Palm kernel expeller
  • Copra meal
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Dried distiller’s grains
  • Sugar beet pulp
  • Pea protein meals
  • Wheat bran or millrun
  • Canola meal
  • Cottonseed meal
  • Sunflower meal
  • Compound feeds.
Audits may also be required for other plant-based animal feed products, depending on the level of biosecurity risk including the potential for diverting that product for stockfeed use.

Audit process

Desk audit:

We will ask you to complete our audit questionnaire for the overseas manufacturer and other facilities involved in the export of your product. Submit the completed audit questionnaire to us at imports@awe.gov.au (put ‘attention: Plant tier 2’ in the subject line).

Learn more about our biosecurity requirements for export facilities.

We will then assess the information provided to ensure that biosecurity risks are managed at every step of the import pathway – from the offshore farm to arrival of the goods at Australia’s border.

Desk audits take 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.

Site audit:

We may need to undertake a site audit of the manufacturing facility and other export facilities, when:

  • the facility is new
  • the size of the farms used to source the inputs are small
    • small farms with limited mechanical production are a higher risk than broad acre farms using mechanical production and harvesting
  • the country’s animal health status is considered higher risk
  • there is high risk material on site
    • animal-based materials stored at the manufacturing facility may increase biosecurity risk
    • sharing production line with other raw material may increase biosecurity risk
  • there is a history of non-compliance including suspension of import permits
  • we need to verify the effectiveness of corrective actions to address non-conformances.

Departmental site audits typically takes 1-5 days, not including time for preparation, travel and reporting. The importer pays all associated costs.

Using third party auditors

We’re trialling the use of independent, third party auditors to undertake site audits on our behalf.

If we determine that the site audit can be conducted by a third party auditor:

1. we will assess the auditor’s suitability to undertake the site audit

We will ask you to identify a potential third party auditor and provide them our third party auditor application form to complete. In completing the form they should also refer to our:

Note: at this point it would be useful to advise any export facilities that a third party will be auditing their site on our behalf and that any documentation relating to the facility will be shared with the third party auditor when they undertake the audit.

When we receive the completed third party auditor application form, we will assess the third party’s suitability to undertake the audit, including whether they are:

Once our assessment is complete we will notify you and the auditor of our decision.

2. third party auditor prepares a site audit plan

We will provide the auditor a copy of the outcomes of our desk audit and any associated documents and records to assist them prepare a site audit plan. 

Once we are happy with the proposed plan, the auditor will work with the overseas facility to schedule the site audit.

3. third party auditor conducts the site audit and reports outcomes

The third party auditor will conduct the site audit according to the audit plan approved by us. They will share initial findings with the facility upon completion.

The auditor will share final outcomes with us. We will review within 20 business days and may seek further evidence or clarification before approving the report. 

We will provide the final audit report to the import permit applicant and the overseas facility to take corrective action as necessary.  

Learn more about engaging and undertaking third party site audits of processed plant-based stockfeed facilities.

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 departmental time spent on 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 all costs associated with departmental site audits. This includes airfares, accommodation, meals and fee for service costs. All costs will be outlined in a service level agreement.

For third party site audits, you will be required to meet all costs borne by the third party auditor.

Need help?

Email the Imports team or call 1800 900 090.

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Last reviewed: 28 September 2020
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