AGRICULTURE minister David Littleproud has promised a vigorous defence of barley exporters following a decision by China to hit a lucrative Australian industry with tariffs.

Chinese authorities have argued Australia has engaged in subsidising and dumping, however there are fears the dispute is part of a larger geopolitical confrontation between China and the US and its allies.

Addressing the Australian Grains Industry Conference (via Zoom), Mr Littleproud said he couldn’t “sugarcoat” the fact industry had taken some hits in the field of trade.

“We face some challenges in trade, make no mistake. The decision by China (to impose tariffs) was disappointing and one we will vigorously defend with industry,” he said.

“There is no way that Australian barley farmers have been subsidised.”

Mr Littleproud said it was important for not just grains but agriculture in general to articulate that “we are one of the least subsidised agriculture industries in the world”.

“Of the 37 OECD countries, there is only New Zealand that subsidised our farmers less than us.”

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Mr Littleproud also mentioned the need for diversification in terms of trading partners.

In a Q&A session as part of AGIC, Mr Littleproud was questioned on whether the federal government was talking to the states about rules governing the movement of trucks across borders.

As reported in Daily Cargo News this week, there are fears COVID-19 testing stipulations will prove unworkable and risk bringing industry to a halt.

“Yes, in fact the Deputy Prime Minister is meeting with transport ministers to rectify this,” Mr Littleproud told the online gathering.

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