THE AUSTRALIAN Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority's (APVMA) decision to issue a minor use permit for the use of glyphosate as a desiccant on feed barley has been welcomed by farm lobby groups.
However the trade is less than happy with reports some marketers have told growers they will not buy feed barley treated with glyphosate.
In practice this will mean these buyers will have to source feed barley from outside the bulk system after all three major bulk handlers said they would receive feed barley treated with glyphosate.
Barley Australia chairman Andrew Gee said he was surprised the APVMA permit came through so quickly.
Previously Barley Australia had urged growers not to treat any barley type with glyphosate as it was not an on-label practice.
Mr Gee said the focus had to be on accurate declarations.
"The practice will be allowed on feed barley, but it is critical we don't have any contamination in malt barley,'' he said.
"If anyone has barley they are targeting to go malt they must not treat it with glyphosate even if it does eventually make only feed quality.
"Delivery declarations are going to be critical in terms of us meeting customer requirements this year, so we just are saying if people use glyphosate, say so at delivery.
"We are getting very strong market signals from China, our major trade partner for barley, that they don't want any glyphosate residues on their food or malt barley.
"They do not have a maximum residue limit (MRL) requirement in regards to glyphosate in their contracts so failure to adhere to standards could stop market access if we don't ensure the quality of the barley we are sending."
Growers delivering malting or food barley to CBH sites are being asked to sign a second declaration form to confirm that it has not been treated with glyphosate, on top of the existing chemical usage declaration form.
"As per the parameters approved by APVMA, CBH will allow glyphosate treated barley into feed grade segregation only," the company said.
"Glyphosate treated barley will not be accepted into any malting or Hindmarsh barley segregations.
"CBH will not be segregating glyphosate treated grain separately and grain treated with glyphosate will be stored within common feed grade storage segregations."
Pulse Australia and Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) also released a guide to late season, pre-harvest and chemical use in pulses and canola crops.
Pulse Australia and AOF executive officer Nick Goddard said the guide provided information on timing and approved products in chickpea, lentil, faba bean, field pea, lupin and canola crops prior to harvest.
"It's there to provide clear guidance to growers so they understand which permitted herbicides can be used prior to harvest," Mr Goddard said.
The APVMA permit for barley comes after grower groups lobbied aggressively to have the practice put on-label.
They wanted farmers to have access to the tool in a season which has seen slow and uneven ripening, meaning a desiccant is a good option to allow even ripening, limit late season fungal diseases and reduce weed seed numbers.
The permit allows for the use of two glyphosate products, Nufarm Weedmaster DST and Nufarm Weedmaster Argo, to be applied to barley at rates of two litres per hectare or 1.7L/ha respectively from late dough stage onwards.
Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann said the response from the APVMA was a "great example of sensible, science-based decision-making".
"We applaud the speed with which the matter had been considered and consider this will be of great benefit to grain producers ahead of harvest," Mr Weidemann said.
"We simply have to have the right tools available for this job in barley and that means glyphosate, which is already registered for crop topping in Australia on various pulses, canola, wheat and sorghum.
"It is also registered for barley in the European Union and North America, so the practice is well established."
Grain Producers South Australia and WAFarmers also issued statements welcoming the permit.
"This decision evens the score for barley in South Australia, given glyphosate is registered for use in other crops pre-harvest," said GPSA chief executive Darren Arney.
WAFarmers grains section president Duncan Young said it was a sensible decision that would ensure growers have the appropriate regulations to support on-farm activities.
"Now that growers are able to use the registered glyphosate product on their feed barley crop, we look forward to seeing more research work undertaken for permanent label registration and for future additions to the label registrations," Mr Young said.
The APVMA permit lasts until July 31, 2019, and its purpose is to support wider access to late season use of glyphosate, building on a recently expired permit.
This new APVMA permit only applies for use on feed barley and does not support use on malting barley crops.
South Australia-based bulk handler Viterra said it had modified its receival process for barley to reflect growers' use of glyphosate while still protecting the State's market access.
Barley sprayed with glyphosate will automatically be classified as feed barley.
GrainCorp corporate affairs manager Luke O'Donnell said little had changed from his organisation's perspective.
"No food or malt grade barley can be treated with glyphosate, the only change will be that in some States for the first time feed barley treated with glyphosate can be delivered," Mr O'Donnell said.
He said he expected the uptake of crop-topping would be minimised by the premium for malt quality barley.
"If farmers think they are in with a chance of getting that premium they will not go out and put glyphosate on, automatically consigning the barley to feed quality," he said.
Mr Gee said marketers looking for glyphosate-free feed barley would have to develop direct links with growers and smaller storage sites.
"It will be difficult to do otherwise given feed in all three major bulk handlers can have glyphosate on it as per the rules following the APVMA decision," he said.