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Australia to Import Foreign Grains For First Time Since '07
USAgNet - 05/16/2019

Australia will import foreign-grown grain for the first time since 2007, after the Department of Agriculture approved a permit to import bulk wheat from Canada. Australian-owned Manildra Group said it would use the high protein wheat for processing at its Shoalhaven Starches plant at Nowra, New South Wales.

"Due to the worst drought in 116 years, high protein wheat is in short supply which is critical to the Shoalhaven Starches wheat-processing plant," Manildra Group said. The permit will secure hundreds of regional jobs and the continuation of wheat processing at the plant. Shoalhaven Starches' preference is to use Australian wheat, and Manildra Group will continue to buy high protein wheat from Australian farmers, as supply permits."

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the permit came with strict biosecurity protocols.

"Biosecurity is always left to the department rather than politicians," Mr Littleproud said.

"This is not a new development, we have had grain imports before and the reality is the drought has impacted significantly the supply of grain."

Opposition spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said all Australians should be concerned that "a great agriculture country like Australia" was now importing grain.

"The key point here is that we are now in need of imported grain, and that should be a wake-up call to a Government that has been in complete denial on climate change," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Speculation about imports has circulated for months as drought devastated the winter crop on Australia's east coast, driving up domestic prices for grain.

Grain grower groups have expressed concern that imports could jeopardise Australia's biosecurity.

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