THE grains industry has called for the establishment of a $20m industry recovery fund, following a decision by China to impose 80.5% tariffs on Australian barley exports.

Grain Trade Australia chief executive Pat O’Shannassy said the situation facing growers was not of their making.

“The punitive tariffs applied by China have effectively stopped Australian barley exports to that market. Exports to China accounted for 60-70% of all Australia’s barley exports,” Mr O’Shannassy said.

“This is a national interest issue. Australian grains account for the top two largest agricultural sectors and are a critical part of rural and regional economies, driving local employment.”

He said the proposed fund would be “a modest investment” given the brunt of the tariff situation would be felt farmers and regional communities.

A report into the Australia-China barley spat. Credit: YouTube and AlJazeera

“The grains industry has an extensive history of demonstrating resilience in changing operating environments, from droughts, fires, floods and pandemics.

Mr O’Shannassy said recent events highlighted the industry alone could not maintain important overseas market access.

“The grains sector calls on government to show its commitment to accelerate market development and capture opportunities for Australian barley and alternate grains, to diversify, secure new market demand and expand existing markets by establishing the industry recovery fund.”