Australian Government statement in response to the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industry Taskforce Report

​​​​​​​​​​On 5 April 2016, the Australian Government released its statement in response to the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Taskforce’s report A Growth Plan for the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industries.

Government response

The Australian Government welcomes the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industry Taskforce’s report A Growth Plan for the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industries, jointly released by the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP and the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, on 1 October 2014. The Taskforce was a commitment in the Government’s Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania, an initiative focused on stimulating Tasmania’s economy and jobs growth.

The Taskforce’s report delivered eight recommendations to expand investment and increase the competitiveness of the Tasmanian fruit and vegetable industries. The Government notes the Taskforce’s findings that action to implement past reviews has been ‘patchy’ and that focused recommendations, with clear accountability, is important. The Government, therefore, welcomes the Taskforce’s key recommendation, to establish a Tasmanian Horticulture Market Growth Project (the Project), which was discussed by the Joint Commonwealth Tasmanian Economic Council and noted as a proposal that could assist in growing the horticulture industry.

To support the development of the Project, the Government is pleased to announce a one-off contribution of $50 000 to the first year of the Project. The Tasmanian government will also contribute $50 000 and the Tasmanian horticulture industry will contribute $30 250. The Government also acknowledges the important in-kind contribution of Tasmanian Irrigation Pty Ltd, which will manage the Project.

The Government notes the Taskforce finding that cultural and structural issues, and lack of industry leadership are barriers to implementation and that there is a need for a strategic, dedicated market focus. To address these issues the Project will employ a Tasmanian-based market growth facilitator to investigate, manage and drive measurable market growth strategies for the horticulture industry, guided by an expert Tasmanian Horticulture Market Growth Reference Group (the Reference Group). The Government looks forward to the Tasmanian horticulture industry’s leadership of the Project through the Reference Group, which will develop a one-year plan to guide the Project and develop a five-year plan within the first year of its appointment.

The priority actions identified by the Taskforce can inform the Project’s development and help guide the Reference Group. The Project will also benefit from close collaboration with the work being undertaken by government departments and industry-led organisations, including support to strengthen Tasmania’s overseas market opportunities.

In addition to providing funding for the first year of the Project, the Government is implementing a range of other initiatives that support the four key drivers of Tasmanian horticulture sales growth identified by the Taskforce: markets; people; funding; and innovation. Addressing these drivers is important to help achieve the Taskforce’s vision of annual sales for horticultural produce reaching $750 million by 2020. These initiatives include the significant opportunities for Tasmanian farmers and exporters arising from:

  • The elimination of tariffs on most of our horticultural exports in Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with key export markets China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
  • Securing strong market access outcomes for Australian horticultural producers and exports in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, reflecting the importance of overseas markets for Australian food and agriculture industries.
  • The Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package, and the Tasmanian Jobs and Investment Fund, which aim to generate new, sustainable business growth and jobs.
  • Funding for the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Innovative Horticulture Products, based at the University of Tasmania
  • Irrigation development, including $60 million for Tasmanian Irrigation Tranche II, and transport projects to improve the state’s road and rail freight network.
  • Expansion of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme from 1 January 2016, to enable Tasmanian companies shipping goods to the mainland to make claims regardless of the goods’ final destination. This will level the playing field for more Tasmanian businesses.

In addition to these initiatives, the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper (the White Paper), released July 2015, is delivering a $4 billion package to grow the competitiveness and profitability of the Australian agricultural sector, including:

  • A $200 million funding increase for biosecurity across Australia to improve our ability to understand, detect and respond to pests and diseases, safeguarding the strong biosecurity status that underpins Tasmania’s agricultural productivity.
  • Building on the Government’s commitment to open new markets for Australian exporters through its FTA agenda, with $30.8 million committed to boost efforts to address technical barriers to trade that impact on our exports, including establishing five new agriculture counsellors in the key international markets of Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, China and the Middle East.
  • A further $12.4 million to enhance the traceability of Australian produce. This will ensure a more modern and streamlined traceability system with an increased ability to quickly trace and isolate products in the event of a traceability incident and therefore maintain export market access. This continues to be a priority in our FTA negotiations, including with India, Indonesia and in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • An additional $100 million to extend the Rural R&D for Profit programme to 2021–22. The Government recognises that investment in rural R&D is essential in the continued drive to grow markets, improve farm-gate returns and help attract the next generation of farmers.
  • Reform to the tax system so that it recognises the business environment within which our farmers operate. This includes an increase to the maximum deposit cap for the Farm Management Deposit Scheme to $800,000 from 1 July 2016, allowing farmers to manage a variable income more effectively, delivering a more flexible business environment for Australian agricultural enterprises.
  • Fairer tax arrangements for fencing, water infrastructure and fodder storage assets. Farmers now have access to simplified accelerated depreciation arrangements for fencing—allowing them to immediately tax deduct the cost of new fencing in the first year of purchase. Farmers can also claim immediate tax deduction of the cost of new water infrastructure, and accelerated three-year depreciation of capital expenditure on fodder assets—worth an estimated $86 million per year. 

In summary, the Government’s financial contribution to the Project, along with the comprehensive range of irrigation, transport, trade, biosecurity, R&D and business support initiatives, will promote growth in Tasmanian fruit and vegetable industries well into the future.

The Government looks forward to the successful completion of the Project and thanks the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industry Taskforce members for the time and effort they dedicated to their report.

Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industry Taskforce

In March 2014, the Australian Government announced the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Taskforce, an element of the Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania, and welcomed its report on 1 October 2015.

The Taskforce was established to review existing work, draw conclusions and develop a unified and agreed growth plan for the Tasmanian fruit and vegetable industries. Membership comprised an independent Chair and 12 experts with skills and experience related to the production and marketing of horticultural produce and allied service industries, and the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture.  

The Australian Government welcomed the Taskforce’s report A Growth Plan for the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industries on 1 October 2014. The report makes eight recommendations that focus on growing the sale of Tasmania’s fruit and vegetables to domestic and export destinations.

The Taskforce noted two main objectives; that a realistic and measurable vision for the Tasmanian fruit and vegetable industries be adopted; and that a Tasmanian Horticulture Market Growth Project is established. A market growth facilitator and reference group would also be created to provide leadership to the project and identify and exploit market opportunities for the Tasmanian fruit and vegetable industries.

Further information about the Taskforce’s membership, terms of reference and its recommendations can be found in its report.

Taskforce documents​

Communication

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