DAWR Imported Foods Notice – Understanding the Food Control Certificate

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (“DAWR”) released an Imported Foods Notice this week reminding importers of food products about the importer’s responsibilities when a Food Control Certificate (“FCC”) is issued.

The Notice, IFN 08-19, can be found here.

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Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) Update

The 2018-2019 seasonal measures for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (“BMSB”) will draw to a close today, April 30, 2019.

However, readers should bear in mind that Australia’s Biosecurity authority, a division of the Australian government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (“DAWR”), has in place “run-off” plans for imported cargo departing overseas ports at or near the end of the seasonal measures.  For example, containers departing overseas ports over the next few days are most likely to have been packed with their cargo prior to the close of the seasonal measures and, therefore, they will still be affected by the seasonal measures even though the container won’t arrive in Australia for at least 3 weeks and possibly up to 6-8 weeks.  DAWR will monitor such shipments closely to ensure appropriate Biosecurity measures have been undertaken prior to shipment, or can be undertaken prior to release of the cargo from the relevant Australian port area.

While those involved with imports from the affected countries of origin will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief that the Biosecurity restrictions will, over the coming months, ease back in respect of this pest, sadly, such relief will be short-lived.

In light of the logistical issues (or nightmares for many) the seasonal measures have created in seasons 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, there has been an on-going inquiry initiated by the relevant Australian Government Minister pursuant to the many representations to Government about the problems faced by the importing community due to DAWR not having sufficient resources to cope with their own requirements.  DAWR acknowledge they are under-resourced and have resorted to extended overtime for Departmental officers as well as re-engaging with recently retired officers to come back into the work force to assist with the volume of work.

Despite this there have been significant delays in some instances and many thousands of dollars in additional costs for importers, and not just in fees charged by DAWR.  Delayed containers often incur storage charges at container terminals (the wharves) or special storage facilities, additional transport costs for containers moved off the wharf to special storage, and shipping line charges for return of empty containers outside the free period allowed by that line.  Shipping lines have shown little interest in appeals from importers for extended free time, using the situation to make extra profit at the expense of importers caught up in a delay not of their making.  The shipping lines seem to take the position that the importer should have made proper arrangements for their cargo prior to shipment to ensure it wasn’t delayed on arrival. This stance by the shipping lines completely (conveniently?) ignores the fact that the delay is not because the importer didn’t have their goods correctly treated overseas, rather it is because DAWR are taking so long to process clearances.  DAWR have steadfastly refused to entertain claims from importers for any compensation, hiding behind the fact there is no requirement within the legislation for them to process clearances within a set time frame.  Clearly, these processing delays demonstrate the importance for importers to provide documents to their Customs and accredited Biosecurity broker as early as possible to allow for the extended time frame it takes DAWR to process the clearance during BMSB season.

In an effort to find a better way of dealing with the issues, DAWR have already been working on plans for the 2019-2020 seasonal measures.  They have hosted public seminars around Australia to advise industry of their proposed measures and to seek feedback in relation to those measures.  From that feedback, they hope to have their final measures settled well in advance of the commencement of the 2019-202 season, unlike 2018-2019 when industry didn’t receive advice of the final measures until a few days prior to the beginning of the season.  On top of that, the system and measures were re-shaped seemingly “on the fly”  during the season as it became apparent DAWR had badly miscalculated the impact of their requirements, and immense pressure was brought to bear from importers and their service providers.

Yesterday, 29 April 2019, saw the first draft release on the DAWR dedicated BMSB webpages of their proposed measures for the 2019-2020 season.  The BMSB, a native of northern Asia, is spreading rapidly through the European and North American continents where it is not yet defined as a “reportable pest” despite it being a major nuisance.  Of note, the number of countries now on the DAWR list of “target risk countries” has increased from 9 in 2018-2019 (10 if you include Japan, but Japan is only on a heightened vessel surveillance regime at this stage) to 32 countries (as at the time of writing, with other countries under scrutiny) for 2019-2020 (plus Japan which remains on a heightened vessel surveillance regime for now).

There is a considerable amount of information on the webpages, and I recommend readers review the information here to start preparing their import arrangements for the 2019-2020 season.  You can also learn about the BMSB itself on the DAWR website by checking this DAWR page.

Should you require assistance to determine if your imports are likely to be affected and, if so, what measures will possibly apply, please Contact Us to discuss.

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DoA Biosecurity impose mandatory inspections on break-bulk cargo

Advice has been received this afternoon that the Department of Agriculture Biosecurity division (DoA Biosecurity) has instituted a system of mandatory inspections on ALL break-bulk cargo (motor vehicles, machinery, etc.) loaded at the US ports of Savannah or Baltimore.

This action is effective immediately and will affect all such cargo discharging from today onwards at ANY Australian port, until further notice.

The reason for this action by DoA Biosecurity is due to recent significant interception of hitchhiker pests, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs and Asian Lady Beetles. All cargo will be subject to full inspection and treatment where necessary. Fees for service will be charged in acordance with normal DoA Biosecurity charging guidelines.

© Lighthouse Agencies Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Department of Agriculture undertakes verification inspections for certain commodities from China

In a previous article, I referred readers to the Department of Agriculture Biosecurity advice of increased surveillance of timber packaging materials originating in China.

The Department of Agriculture Biosecurity division released Notice to Industry 63/2014 advising they are now undertaking a short term verification inspection programme targeting commercial goods falling under Harmonised tariff headings 2514, 2515, 2516, 6801, 6802 and 6809.

The Department recently intercepted some pallets that were found to be infested with Asian longhorn beetle, the brown mulberry longhorn beetle, and the Japanese sawyer beetle. All of these are considered significant pests of living trees. The concern is that the pallets were all marked with the treatment identification code ISPM15 HT and supporting documents were provided which confirmed treatment had occurred.

The programme will run for 3 weeks from late June 2014.

In order to minimise the impact on importers:
– Inspections will take place at the importers premises or a location nominated by the importer.
– Goods may be removed from shipping containers; however all goods and packaging must be isolated awaiting inspection.
– No inspection fees will be issued, however normal document processing fees will apply.

The Department is particularly interested in identifying wooden packaging material displaying signs of insect damage or ineffective treatment.

In addition, importers that discover any suspect materials (even materials already imported and in the importer’s premises) should immediately notify the Department via 1800 19 55 43

© Lighthouse Agencies Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Department of Agriculture Biosecurity fee review finalised

In a previous article, I notified readers of the Department of Agriculture, Biosecurity Division, review of its fees with any increases to become effective from 1 July, 2014.

The review is now complete and the Department has published a list of the new charges to take effect from 1 July, 2014. The increases relating to import declarations and container inspections are modest, with the largest increase being only AU$6.00. Increases for permit applications and related assessments are significant, being generally between 45% and 50% (for example, the base application fee for an import permit lodged electronically will increase from AU$85.00 to AU$125.00).

© Lighthouse Agencies Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Department of Agriculture Biosecurity increases surveillance of timber packaging materials from China

The Department of Agriculture Biosecurity division today released Notice to Industry 59/2014 advising they are increasing surveillance of timber packaging materials originating in China.

The Department recently intercepted some pallets that were found to be infested with Asian longhorn beetle, the brown mulberry longhorn beetle, and the Japanese sawyer beetle. All of these are considered significant pests of living trees. The concern is that the pallets were all marked with the treatment identification code ISPM15 HT and supporting documents were provided which confirmed treatment had occurred.

The Department has determined that the treatment was not effective and is asking for the assistance of everyone involved in the importing chain to be on the lookout for timber packaging materials that are showing signs of insect damage or ineffective treatment, and to inspect all timber packaging or dunnage as it arrives at their premises, or already received. Such signs include holes and piles of frass (fine sawdust), large pieces of bark or the presence of mould or fungus.

Any suspect materials should be immediately notified to the Department via 1800 19 55 43

© Lighthouse Agencies Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

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