Wheat imported for first time in more than a decade

By Country News

Widespread drought has seen wheat imported into Australia for the first time in more than a decade.

Sydney-based company Manildra Group received a permit to import bulk wheat from Canada, saying ‘‘exceptional drought circumstances’’ had forced the company to import for the first time in its 67-year history.

‘‘This permit will secure hundreds of regional jobs and the continuation of wheat processing at the plant,’’ the statement said.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources issued the permit for a single shipment of bulk wheat, subject to strict conditions to manage any biosecurity risk.

The import conditions require that the grain is sourced from areas assessed as presenting a low plant and animal biosecurity risk and impose strict movement, storage and processing controls within Australia.

Industry body Grain Growers said they were aware of ‘‘several additional import applications’’ that were being considered.

‘‘The importation of grain reflects tight supplies owing to the devastating 2018 east coast drought. There is discussion within the grain industry regarding whether Australia’s grain supply (inventory) is currently adequate to meet domestic demand requirements,’’ the body said.

‘‘GrainGrowers does not oppose the importation of grains or processed grain products if biosecurity is not compromised.’’

The news comes following a horror season last year.

Australian wheat production halved to about two million tonnes according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

The wheat shipment is expected to arrive in Australia in the next six to eight weeks.