19 November 2015
Australian primary industries ministers met in Brisbane on 19 November 2015. The meeting was chaired by the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP.
Ministers addressed a number of key priorities for the agriculture and water resources portfolio including progress on the implementation of the agricultural competitiveness and developing northern Australia white papers. Discussion included support measures to assist farmers in drought and enhancements to the biosecurity system to support Australia’s current market access arrangements and improve responsiveness to incursion incidents.
Ministers discussed water policy matters including; the national water infrastructure development fund announced in the Australian Government white paper/s, the National Water Initiative that underpins the Australian Government’s water reform activities and activities in the Great Artesian Basin.
Ministers noted the progress of the Australian Government’s commitment to improving the country of origin labelling framework for food. The Commonwealth will engage with states and territories, through the consumer affairs and food regulation ministerial forums, prior to introducing changes to the current food labelling framework. The proposed changes will meet the desire for consumers to know the proportion of Australian ingredients in the food they purchase.
Ministers discussed work underway to improve national biosecurity system. They also agreed to commence a review in 2016 of the Intergovernmental agreement on biosecurity (IGAB). State and Territory ministers agreed to continue to collaborate at a national level on biosecurity policy initiatives, and on existing cost-sharing arrangements.
Ministers noted the interim National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication program review – namely that it remains in the national interest to eradicate red imported fire ants and that it is technically feasible to do so. Ministers agreed to continue funding the program for 2015/16.
Ministers noted the importance of measures that provide clarity on the term ‘free-range’ to egg producers and consumers, that are efficient, cost effective and build consumer and business confidence.
Ministers endorsed cross jurisdictional collaboration on fruit fly control activities. Ministers noted the release of the Victorian Fruit Fly Action Plan that outlines management and research linkages across the New South Wales and South Australian state borders.
Ministers agreed the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats is delivering traceability along the supply chain underpinning market confidence in quality Australian sheepmeat and goat products. The need for a consistent approach to measuring performance of the system was agreed.
Ministers agreed to closer cooperation and coordination of international trade and market development and requested senior officials to put in place arrangements to support that objective. The Victorian Minister encouraged governments to procure Australian made paper wherever it is available.
The next meeting of the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum is expected to be held in New Zealand in early-mid 2016.