CropLife Australia ready to work with Government to ensure proposed Agvet Chemicals Bill actually delivers efficiency

    15 November 2011

    (Canberra) – CropLife Australia has declared that the Federal Government must ensure its proposed reforms to the regulation of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals matches their rhetoric. The reform package must cut red tape and increase the efficiency of the system.

    On initial glance, the Exposure Draft of the Government’s Bill does deliver some promising efficiency measures, however, it seems to be creating more unnecessary regulation in some areas rather than delivering genuine productivity gains. More regulation does not equate to better regulation.

    The reforms need to encourage the development of modern and safe chemicals by removing barriers for companies to invest in cutting edge technologies and improve access to chemical products for farmers.

    As the peak industry organisation for the plant science sector, CropLife is not yet convinced that the content of the Bill will achieve the outcomes necessary to drive agricultural innovation and productivity into the future.

    CropLife’s Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Cossey, said, “I commend the Government’s sentiment in the media statement accompanying the release of the Exposure Draft of the Bill, however, I am not convinced that sentiment matches the reality of what is being proposed in the Bill itself.

    “Agricultural chemical registrants are looking to these reforms to drive regulatory efficiency and maximise the incentive for them to bring new technologies and products to the market that are better targeted, safer for farmers and better for the environment.

    “At this stage we remain to be convinced that there are genuine efficiency measures that outweigh the additional costs associated with new requirements for the periodic reconsideration of agricultural chemical products. The reconsideration provisions substantially duplicate the existing chemical review program.

    “Instead of improving the efficiency of the system, the Government is proposing more than 200 pages of new regulation, building in more regulatory cost and inefficiency. I’m concerned that this process has ended up being more about pandering to the whims of anti-chemical activists without any scientific basis, as opposed to genuine better regulation.

    “That stated, the industry will take the Government at its word on wanting efficiencies in the system and we remain committed to working constructively with Ministers’ Ludwig and Sherry to ensure the final reform package that is introduced into Parliament does actually deliver on the Government’s stated goals.

    “I do commend Ministers’ Ludwig and Sherry on the consultative process they have put in place to allow stakeholders the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions to improve the proposed Bill. Getting this regulation right is not just important for Australia’s plant science industry but is critical to the future of Australia’s farming sector. Australia’s farmers need access to the latest crop protection tools and technologies if Australia is to meet the coming global food security challenge, of doubling food production with fewer natural resources.

    “The Productivity Commission’s report into Plastics and Chemicals Regulation in 2008 found that Australia’s system for regulating chemicals is effective, but not efficient. It would be a travesty if the Government’s new proposals only serve to make the system for agricultural chemicals even more inefficient. CropLife is keen to work with the Government to ensure that this reform process provides genuinely better regulation.”