Coalition delivers actual solutions for Australian agriculture

    29 August 2013

    The plant science industry welcomes today’s announcement that a Coalition government would fund a minor use program and reduce unnecessary red tape on key agricultural inputs.

    Thursday 29 August 2013 (Canberra) – The Coalition’s commitment to funding a specialty crops and minor use program, and removing poorly targeted regulation of agricultural chemicals is a promising first step to delivering genuine gains in Australian agricultural productivity. The Coalition’s agriculture policy announced today demonstrates a commitment to ensuring Australia meets its food security responsibilities in an ecologically and economically sustainable manner.

    CropLife Australia CEO, Matthew Cossey said today, “The need to increase agricultural productivity has been paid a great deal of lip service over the past few years. It is a relief to finally see a commitment from one side of politics to investing in actual solutions.

    “Today’s announcement from the Coalition consists of smart, targeted policy that will benefit both farmers and consumers. The plant science industry and the farming sector more broadly have been calling on the Australian Government for many years to provide base funding for a specialty crops and minor use program, as the system in its current form is failing not only Australian agriculture, but the economy as a whole.

    “An analysis of a similar program in the US, which has been in place for over 30 years, showed that every dollar spent by government in assisting specialty growers in the US returned more than $500 to the economy.

    The program in the US has also facilitated greater investment by the private sector. It is about time Australian farmers were given the same access to tools, support and opportunities as their international competitors. If this program is successfully implemented, Australia’s plant science industry stands ready to make its own additional investments to assist in bringing more products and more uses to Australian farmers.

    “The Coalition’s proposed $8 million investment would improve responsible chemical usage. It would mean that Australian farmers could consider a range of other high return produce and crops. It would significantly assist in addressing the challenges of weed and pest resistance problems. Such a program would also ensure that Australian food producers develop environmentally friendly, sustainable, integrated crop management systems through access to the latest chemistry.

    “The current government’s National Food Plan and Asian Century White Paper were commendable initiatives which helped further the national discussion on food and agriculture policy. Unfortunately, beyond the talk, we have so far only seen an increase in unnecessary, misguided and costly regulation of agricultural support industries and zero investment in actual policy solutions for Australian agriculture.

    “The Coalition’s commitment to reducing unnecessary red tape on agricultural chemicals is absolutely crucial for improving the efficiency of the regulator and ensuring that resources are targeted at areas of actual risk. The proposed reforms show genuine understanding of the needs of Australian farmers and the industries that support them.

    “Continuing to identify and implement measures designed to ensure that the regulator remains as efficient and effective as possible should continue to be a priority for whatever party forms government after 7 September.

    “Today’s announcement from the Coalition shows a genuine understanding of the important issues facing the nation’s agriculture sector, and would allow Australian farmers to access the same tools at the same time as their international competitors. This policy would encourage investment in innovation and give a much-needed boost to Australian agricultural productivity. While the Coalition’s announcement is a welcome start, the plant science industry is keen to see an ongoing commitment to investment in providing farmers with modern plant science technologies from all major parties,” concluded Mr Cossey.

    Contact: Jessica Lee (Manager – Public Affairs)  Ph: 02 6230 6399  Mob: 0410 491 261