Importing plant based animal feed and veterinary therapeutics

​​​​​​Types of plant based animal feed and veterinary therapeutics

Animal feed is defined as any substance, other than veterinary therapeutics, that is ingested orally by animals. Animal feeds include stock feed, aquaculture feed, pet food, supplements and baits.

Veterinary therapeutics are products which require registration with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and are used for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease and injury in animals. Therapeutic products may come in forms such as tablets, pills, capsules, powders or liquids. All other orally administered products containing ingredients of plant, animal or microbial origins are classed as animal supplements.

Risks associated with animal feed

Animal feeds pose a high biosecurity risk because they are fed directly to animals and may be used in rural environments. This could provide a direct pathway for exotic animal and plant pests and diseases to enter and establish in Australia.

Stock feed is considered to pose a particularly high biosecurity risk because of its potential to introduce animal diseases which could devastate Australia’s livestock industries. Examples of such diseases include transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (such as “mad cow disease”), foot and mouth disease, Newcastle disease and infectious bursal disease. Stock feed could become infected with diseases during production of the ingredients or through contamination during manufacturing, storage or transportation.

Import conditions

To address biosecurity risks, all animal feed and veterinary therapeutics must meet strict import conditions which are set out in the Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) system. Animal feed products that contain plant, animal or microbial ingredients require an import permit. An import permit is required regardless of the quantity you wish to import, and must be obtained prior to consignments being shipped to Australia from overseas.

Please see the relevant BICON case below to view the import conditions and apply for a permit (if required):

Stock feed, supplements and ingredients of plant origin – This case describes the requirements for plant based products used as feed for livestock, including pelletised stock feeds, grain, oilseed and plant meals, oils, and other dietary supplements.

For stock feed containing ingredients not of plant origin, see ‘Stock feed, stock feed ingredients and stock feed additives (not of plant origin)’ in BICON and refer to the biological products website for additional information.

Note: because of the high potential biosecurity risks associated with imported stock feed, rigorous assessments are carried out by the department before an import permit can be issued. This may include the production facilities being audited by auditors from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The importer is responsible for the costs of this assessment process.

Birdseed – This case describes the requirements for importing seed for bird feed.

Pet food, supplements and ingredients of plant origin  – This case describes the requirements for importing plant based products used as feed for large and small pets, excluding birdseed and fish feed. This includes dog and cat canned/retorted food and biscuits, rabbit/guinea pig pellets, as well as any plant products/ingredients to be used in pet food manufacturing in Australia.

For pet food containing ingredients not of plant origin, see ‘Pet food’ in BICON and refer to the biological products website for additional information.

Aquaculture feed and pet fish food  – This case describes the requirements for importing products used as feed for farming of aquatic organisms (e.g. fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants) and pet fish. More information can be found on the biological products website.

Baits, lures and attractants for agricultural or domestic use  – This case describes the requirements for importing products used to attract non-aquatic animals or pests. For additional information, refer to the biological products website.

Baits and lures for aquatic use – This case describes the requir​ements for importing products used to attract aquatic animals or pests. For additional information, refer to the biological products website.

Veterinary therapeutics and medicines – This case describes the requirements for the importation of veterinary therapeutics tablets, pills, capsules, powders or liquids. For additional information, refer to the biological products website.

Questionnaire for manufacturers of animal feed

Import permit applications allow the department to individually assess each product to ensure that biosecurity risks to Australia have been sufficiently addressed. Extensive technical information is required for all animal feed import permit applications to be assessed. These requirements apply to all permit applications, including those for products which have previously held import permits and been imported.

As per the conditions set out in BICON, import permit applications for plant based animal feed require the manufacturer of the product to complete a production questionnaire (which is to be attached to the permit application). The information collected will be used to determine appropriate import conditions for these products.

If this information is to be communicated via another party, a Letter of Authority is also required.

Note: for baits and animal feed not of plant origin, appropriate questionnaires can be found on biological products website

The department reserves the right to request information such as standard operating procedures and/or photographic evidence in addition to that outlined above once the import permit application is submitted.

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