THE Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) has denied there has been any change to the regulations surrounding the issuing of wheat import permits.
There have been allegations from some within the grains industry that the requirements have been softened, which is why Manildra is allowed to process the grain in Nowra, 70km away from the port, as opposed to in a metropolitan area, as was mandated in the past.
However, a DAWR spokesperson said there had been no changes in the regulations since wheat was last imported in 2006-07.
Brett Hosking, Grain Growers chairman, said whatever the situation, DAWR needed to clarify the situation.
"We want to know what is and isn't required to get an import permit, we were talking to DAWR in February regarding getting a clear view of the situation but then the election was called and we still don't have info on the process as a whole.
"We're not saying there was anything untoward with the permit being granted, we'd just like to know more about the criteria Manildra met to be granted permission to bring the wheat in.
Matthew Madden, chair of NSW Farmers' grains committee, was of the understanding the rules had changed and said his organisation had written to the Federal Government asking for clarity.
"It would appear that changes were made to the protocol late last year and that there was little to no engagement with industry about these changes."
"Given it will be growers who will have to cost-share the response to any biosecurity incursion linked to an exotic pest found in imported grain, growers deserve to know how the risk arising from bulk grain imports are being managed, as well as what conditions the government may have placed on imports to maintain Australia's domestic competitive grain growing advantage," he said.
"We must not jeopardise our clean and safe reputation for the sake of expediency."
For its part, DAWR gave a list of conditions importers must meet before getting permission to bring wheat into the country.
Crucially, imported grain must still be processed using heat and pressure to mitigate plant and animal biosecurity risks.
Other conditions include:
* Sourcing from a country with low plant and animal risk, using clean export pathways, such as grain elevators and transport units,
* The gran being free from quarantine pests and animal material and the grain being securely transported onshore to control the leakage of grain or dust during transport from the point of discharge through to the point of processing.
* Storing and processing the grain under biosecurity control at an Approved Arrangement.
The DAWR spokesperson said the department was confident that the conditions effectively managed the biosecurity risks.