THE Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines’ (APVMA) decision to approve the use of two glyphosate products on mature feed barley crops has drawn wide-ranging reactions from industry, mostly favourable.
Grain receivers have advised growers that malt and food-barley varieties, if treated with glyphosate, will be binned as feed, and have warned of the consequences of inappropriate use.
Meanwhile grower reactions have ranged from messages of support for the practical benefits it will provide to those trying to manage wet and cool conditions this harvest, to words of opposition to glyphosate being used in barley crops.
GrainGrowers: Growers urged to declare sprayed barley
GrainGrowers Limited welcomed the APVMA’s approval of the use of glyphosate for pre-harvest desiccation and spray topping of weeds in barley.
“This will assist growers to more effectively manage this year’s barley harvest, particularly with wet and cool conditions persisting into the harvest window,” GrainGrowers Limited general manager industry development, Dr Michael Southan said.
He reminded producers that the permit is for use of glyphosate on feed barley only and excludes use on malt barley.
“Growers are encouraged to declare barley that has been sprayed with glyphosate at delivery so bulk handlers can segregate glyphosate treated barley from non-glyphosate treated barley (feed or malt) and traders can sell glyphosate-treated barley into markets where minimum residue limits (MRLs) for glyphosate in barley exist.”
A ‘sensible decision’: WAFarmers
WAFarmers grains section president, Duncan Young, said it was a sensible decision that would ensure growers had the appropriate regulations to support on-farm activities.
“We congratulate Grain Producers Australia for their lead on this issue, and the APVMA for working collaboratively with industry to fast track the permit as a priority for the upcoming season,” Mr Young said.
“Now that growers are able to use the registered glyphosate product on their feed barley crops, we look forward to seeing more research work undertaken for permanent label registration and for future additions to the label registrations.”
‘Shock at decision’: Vic farmer
Victorian farmer and long-serving industry committee member (Graingrowers, Grain Trade Australia, Dept of Ag) Chris Kelly from Woomelang spoke against the APVMA’s decision to issue a permit for the pre-harvest application of glyphosate as a harvest aid and for spray topping of annual ryegrass weeds in non-malting barley crops.
“I and many other farmers were shocked to learn of this decision because we are aware of the changed circumstances surrounding the safety of glyphosate,” Mr Kelly said.
“At the 2016 NFF conference Andrew (Twiggy) Forrest talked about Australia’s reputation for food safety in Asia. He said we had impeccable credentials with Asian food buyers and that we should make a coordinated effort to develop ‘Brand Australia’.
“Australia has valuable credibility in Asia; the affluent middle-class in China chooses Australian farm produce because it is perceived to be clean and safe for people to eat.
“But the grain industry is blind to what I believe, along with other farmers who support my view, is improper use of glyphosate. Our farming systems properly use glyphosate for weed control before crops are established and I am in favour of GM crops that use glyphosate in-crop. We do not use it in-crop for barley and wheat because we feel the danger period is during maturation at 28% moisture risking increase of glyphosate residue. My opinion is that the APVMA decision is detrimental to barley and wheat marketing.
“I urge regulators to cancel the temporary permit for spraying glyphosate on mature barley crops, and I also urge regulators to review its use on mature wheat crops. We can achieve a similar result by windrowing and not pay the price of downgrading our market premium in perceptions of the consumers of Asia.
“European and North American farmers have glyphosate entrenched in their farming systems. Black Sea origins, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan are competing on price alone into Asia’s markets. Australia has a perfect opportunity to do what our farmer organisations have been pushing, to make a niche for ourselves by differentiating our barley and wheat with all the characteristics buyers perceive as desirable.
“The perception of glyphosate entering the food-chain by mature crop application is not desirable.
Like lemmings off a cliff, the grain industry fails to see the market demands of the coming decade. Maltsters and buyers of human-food barley reject any loads treated with glyphosate because they do not want increased residues in their food supply chain.
“Glyphosate has received publicity since the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate, on 20 March 2015, into group 2A (link here) and 14 months later the FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) on 16 May 2016 a summary report on (two insecticides and) the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate evaluating risk-estimates from consuming these chemicals in food.
“In one sense, it does not matter that the first study reported glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans, or that the second concluded glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet, because what matters is people’s perception.
“WHO published questions and answers on Food Safety on 27 May 2016 from their JMPR secretariat and shows these are not small questions or simple answers. We need to be aware that what matters is not what we think, but what our customers think.
“We know food regulators around the world are revisiting MRLs for glyphosate as we speak. The catalyst for this is consumer concern over perceptions that glyphosate residue in our daily food is bad for our health and unsafe. Regulators are responding to public anxieties.
“If ever there was a chance to differentiate ourselves from the European Union and North America it is on this food safety issue.
“Australian regulators here have a big opportunity to pursue the holy grail of branded premiums of Australian safe food.”
All glyphosate-treated barley will be graded as feed barley: GrainCorp
GrainCorp has stipulated that all glyphosate-treated barley will be graded as feed barley only.
In line with previous advice, GrainCorp storage facilities will not be accepting glyphosate-treated barley into any malting, Hindmarsh or Compass barley segregations.
Grain treated with glyphosate will be stored within common Feed grade segregations only and will not be segregated separately.
This policy is in place to protect the export value of the grain, irrespective of recently issued Australian Pesticides Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) permits.
Auditing and declaration obligations: growers are obliged to declare any glyphosate use at time of grain delivery.
Any malting barley treated with glyphosate prior to harvest must be declared and will be received as Feed grade.
Auditing of grower loads for the presence of glyphosate will be increased to protect the value of the grain.
To avoid unnecessary delays at grain receival sites, growers are asked to ensure that your employees, agents or contractors that are responsible for delivering grain are advised on the treatment status of barley loads.
CBH: glyphosate-treated barley into feed grade only
As per the parameters approved by APVMA, CBH will allow glyphosate-treated barley into feed grade segregation only.
Glyphosate-treated barley will not be accepted into any malting or Hindmarsh barley segregations.
CBH will not be segregating glyphosate treated grain separately.
Grain treated with glyphosate will be stored within common feed grade storage segregations.
Any use of unapproved chemicals or breaches of MRL that are declared or detected will result in deliveries being suspended by CBH until an on-farm investigation is completed.
Growers who deliver chemical contaminated grain will be liable for losses and damage resulting from the breach.
Viterra: Reflecting glyphosate use while protecting market access
Viterra says it has modified its receival process for barley to reflect growers’ use of glyphosate while still protecting South Australia’s market access.
The modified process is in place for all barley loads from November 7, 2016.
Malting barley varieties which have not had glyphosate applied remain eligible for malting classification.
Barley sprayed with glyphosate will automatically be classified as feed barley.
As part of the classification process for each load of barley, the classifier will ask if glyphosate has been applied.
Growers will need to declare whether glyphosate has been applied or not. If the grower or carrier does not know, the result will be feed.
Individual grower load samples will be kept for all malting barley deliveries and residue testing will be undertaken.
If a malting variety (and the varieties Compass and Hindmarsh) have had glyphosate applied, the highest classification for that load will be feed due to market access and customer requirements.
Viterra will not segregate glyphosate treated barley separately. Barley treated with glyphosate will be stored within the existing feed segregations.