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Update on assessment process for plant-based animal feeds and fertilisers

Effective from 1 September 2016

Biosecurity risks associated with plant-based animal feeds (e.g. pet food, aquaculture feed, stock feed) and fertilisers

Animal feeds present a potential direct pathway for animal diseases to be introduced from farms overseas to animals in Australia. This applies to stock feed products, ingredients and additives that are made using plant-based materials. Plant derived raw materials can be contaminated with animal pathogens during growth and maturation, harvesting, storage, transport, processing and shipment.

Fertilisers also present a level of biosecurity risk as they are often spread on agricultural land that is subsequently grazed by livestock.

Our understanding of the level and nature of animal disease risks changes over time as new information becomes available and reports of disease outbreaks affecting overseas trading partners are published. In recent history there have been several outbreaks of foot and mouth disease virus in countries that were previously considered free of the disease as a result of the importation of stock feed products from affected countries. Added to this is the devastating outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus that has afflicted the swine industry in the United States of America and Canada.

These emerging animal disease incidents have highlighted the fact that animal feeds, including stock feed of plant origin, and fertiliser do play a significant role in disease transmission across international borders.

It is for this reason that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has recently made changes to the way it assesses import permit applications for plant-based animal feed and fertiliser products.


Changes to the assessment process for plant-based animal feeds and fertilisers

Importers of plant-based animal feeds and fertilisers can expect several changes to the biosecurity risk assessment process for these commodities:

  • The risk assessment will now be a collaborative assessment undertaken by the department’s Plant and Animal Divisions. The Plant Import Operations Branch will still act as the principal contact for clients and will liaise with the Animal and Biological Import Assessments Branch as required

  • A rigorous assessment will be applied to potentially high biosecurity risk stockfeed. The Animal Feed Production Questionnaire has been updated to better reflect the information required to conduct this assessment thereby avoiding repeated requests for information. Assessing officers will continue to request specific information where it is necessary to complete the biosecurity risk assessment

  • An information sheet explaining biosecurity issues associated with stockfeed will also be available with the questionnaire, and

  • The department is better equipped to assess the risk associated with imports of canola meal, sunflower meal, tapioca starch/meal and corn cob products (or products containing these ingredients) with a better understanding of how raw materials are sourced and processed overseas.

This increased rigor of assessment means that Australian individuals or businesses, currently importing high biosecurity risk plant-based animal feeds and fertilisers into Australia, should factor in an increased lead time for assessment of new permit applications and ‘renewal’ permit applications i.e. applications for products that have previously been imported into Australia.


Information required for assessment of plant-based animal feeds and fertilisers

The updated questionnaire and information sheet encourage applicants to provide as much relevant information as possible with their import permit application. This will reduce the need for requests for additional information for higher risk products and associated delays.

Information that is relevant to the assessment includes:

  • A description of the scale of production and harvesting methods for plant crops used in manufacture

  • Other biological raw materials, including materials of animal origin, held on site at the processing facility and all storage facilities

  • Details of processing steps used during manufacture including seed processing, chemical extraction, thermal treatments, mechanical processing (e.g. screw pressing) and controls on contamination post-processing

  • Details of thermal processing steps e.g. product moisture levels at the point of application of heat (moist vs dry), and

  • The source of water used during production of stock feed.

Please note: A metropolitan or other potable water supply would generally be acceptable. However cross contamination with untreated river or dam water represents a risk of contamination with plant, animal or human diseases.

  • Measures in place to control the risk of post-processing contamination.

It is understood that the heightened level of assessment will present additional challenges to many applicants. It is also possible that, where identified risks are not being managed effectively, additional risk control measures may be necessary to permit import of certain goods into Australia.

The department’s assessing officers will work with applicants to communicate the biosecurity risks and to outline clearly the information required to assess these risks.


For further information please contact:

Email – imports@agriculture.gov.au

Phone – 1800 900 090

This Alert applies to the following Cases:


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