Agriculture is a vital part, not just of the fabric of rural and regional Australia, but of the entire nation.
With agriculture contributing over $55 billion to the nation’s economy, and employing over 300,000 Australians across the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector (with huge multiplier effects), it is essential that it is encouraged to grow.
The $1billion of farmer and government contributions to agricultural research and development (R&D) organisations needs to be effectively targeted to help improve the profitability of Australian agriculture through enhancing the skills and decision making of farmers.
Examples of what needs to be done:
- Having strong competition laws that that can effectively deal with and penalise predatory abuse of market power from companies in the agricultural to retail supply chain. This needs to include a stronger ‘effects’ test than the federal government is currently proposing, divestiture powers to break up companies for gross abuse of market power, and quicker and more affordable access to justice.
- Continue to push for clear country of origin labelling for food and ingredients including clear labels showing the source country of imported products. The recently implemented changes federally, whilst welcome, need to be improved upon and monitored for their effectiveness.
- It’s imperative to scrap the punitive AQIS charges on small exporters that destroy incentives to export.
- We will continue to push for urgent strong anti-dumping rules to prevent domestic industries being dumping grounds for imported produce such as what happened with tinned tomatoes.
- Help work to encourage domestic investment in Australian agriculture through investment vehicles such as Australian superannuation funds.
- Continue to support the full implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
- Support the export of livestock to countries who implement Australia’s strict ESCAS Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System. However, our preference is to encourage the processing of livestock in Australia, in regional Australia, to grow industry and jobs, we understand that different markets exist and that will take time to grow.
- Federal drought funding must require that state governments do not unreasonably impede the delivery of drought support.