Jim Moran – Grain’s Industry Biosecurity Officer

As the winter crop ripens rapidly in the southern state’s grain belt, thoughts of managing the harvest are front of mind for grain growers. 

Contractors employed to assist with your harvest management activities need to be aware of your farm biosecurity standards and expectations, to manage the risk of introducing hitchhiker pests, weeds, and diseases onto your property.

Regardless of the contractor’s expertise in spraying, windrowing, harvesting, transporting, or storage, it’s essential your biosecurity standards are included and agreed to as part of the contracting process.

By including clear and precise wording in the contract it can minimise assumptions about the biosecurity activities to be undertaken, how they will be done, what proof is required, and what penalties apply if they aren’t observed. 

Contractors should be committed to maintaining biosecurity practices that protect both your business and theirs from the risk of biosecurity events. 

Essential contractor responsibilities include:

  • meeting all state-based quarantine requirements and general biosecurity obligations
  • training their staff in biosecurity awareness and procedures
  • arriving clean and leaving clean
  • supplying agreed-upon evidence (written or photographic) of pre-arrival cleanliness and pre-exit cleanliness of all their machinery and equipment
  • signing in and signing out all staff, equipment, and machinery.

Quotes from contractors should consider:

  • time required for cleaning before arrival on your property
  • time required for cleaning before departure from your property
  • fees and charges relating to required biosecurity documentation and inspections when travelling interstate.

Property owners should consider providing contractors with the location of suitable washdown areas and cleaning equipment to clean footwear, machinery and equipment appropriately.

Have the conversations about biosecurity with contractors early and often to avoid non-compliance with your farm biosecurity expectations. Make it impossible to fail to prevent any nasty surprises.

The promotion of biosecurity practices within the grain’s industry has resulted in an increase in on-farm and industry wide knowledge about best practice biosecurity management techniques.

With recent examples of how fast a weed, pest or disease can spread there’s every motivation to ensure accountability for anyone visiting and working on your farm to meet your biosecurity practices and standards.

It’s important for grain growers and all land managers to take ownership of biosecurity at their farm. It’s no longer unusual to have conversations about biosecurity with people, before they enter the farming property.

All farmers are encouraged to place a biosecurity sign at the farm’s main gates, as a reminder that biosecurity matters and is everyone’s responsibility. Establishing the requirement for all visitors to contact you prior to entry allows you to enforce your biosecurity requirements.

Grain Producers Australia Chair and WA grain producer, Barry Large, said everyone needs to stay vigilant on biosecurity to help protect vital grain market access and safeguard farm businesses against damaging pests and diseases.

Mr Large said the Australian Custom Harvesters Association, which represents professional contract harvesters across Australia, included biosecurity in recommended standard contracts with a pragmatic and common-sense approach.

“GPA supports this approach, with biosecurity terms included in contracts, when engaging a”contractor to work on your farm,” he said.

“This will ensure we lift standards to strengthen biosecurity protections, with greater accountability and shared responsibility, to support the profitability and sustainability of grain producers and our industry.”

For free biosecurity gate signs, farm biosecurity manuals, monitoring grain storage manuals, and biosecurity fact sheets, please contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186.           

For helpful grains biosecurity resources, tactics and other information, please visit:





* Parts of this article were inspired by Contractor agreements: A guide to biosecurity, published in VineHealth Australia e-newsletter 25 September 2023.