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Drought Leads Australia to Import Wheat for the First Time in 12 Years

As drought continues across the eastern states of Australia, conditions are driving grain production to decline by 20 percent. Australia’s winter crop output for 2018/2019 is expected to be 20 percent below the 20-year average, while the country’s wheat crop is expected to fall by 20 percent to 17 million tons.

The situation is such that the country is planning to import wheat from overseas for the first time in 12 years. The single shipment from Canada is due to arrive in Australia within six to eight weeks.

The decision is a contentious one. As Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources confirms the issue of a bulk import permit allowing for wheat to be brought in from Canada to be processed domestically, Australian farmers claim that the risk of importing diseased or contaminated wheat from overseas is too high.

Granted, although wheat is usually processed in close proximity to the ports, Industry insiders are concerned that contaminated wheat, or a new variety of weed, may fall out of a truck during transport and be spread farther than expected.

To quell these concerns, the department included the stipulation that the imported wheat must be sourced from areas in Canada assessed as being low risk for plant and animal biosecurity Additionally, once in Australia, the shipment must follow strict movement, storage, and processing controls.

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