1 November 2021
Commonwealth, state, and territory Agriculture Ministers met virtually on 1 November 2021 to progress the work program for the Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting. The meeting was chaired by the Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, the Hon David Littleproud MP.
COVID-19 response and recovery
Ministers discussed ongoing efforts to support COVID-19 response and recovery, particularly the implementation of the Australian Agriculture Worker Visa, which will help address labour shortages in the agriculture sector. Discussions also covered the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy, the Agriculture Workers’ Code, and Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Program and vaccine and quarantine arrangements.
Ministers appreciated the value of migrant workers to the agricultural workforce and the importance of increasing the scope to safely bring workers to Australia. Ministers discussed the changing quarantine arrangements in different jurisdictions and that in some jurisdictions, quarantine was not required for those arriving through the PALM program, provided they were fully vaccinated.
Coordinated workplan for climate change
Focusing on the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents to farmers, Ministers recognised the ongoing work and importance of the Climate Change Task Group, on the climate change implementation plan being led by Victoria and agreed to finalise the plan out-of-session following the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).
Ministers recognised the efforts being made across jurisdictions to respond to climate change.
National Drought Agreement
Ministers expressed appreciation for the continued resilience of farmers and their ongoing efforts to recover from the impacts of the recent drought. Ministers discussed progress on the framework for the review of the National Drought Agreement, which is expected to be agreed out-of-session by Ministers before the end of the year.
Actions to strengthen key biosecurity systems
Ministers acknowledged actions being taken to strengthen the national biosecurity system, and the importance of governments’ collective efforts to deliver an improved protection in the face of increasing biosecurity risks.
Ministers received a progress report on the National Biosecurity Strategy and agreed that the final strategy be delivered for ministers’ consideration by the end of March 2022.
Ministers considered the findings of the independent Strategic Review of the National Red Imported Fire Ants Eradication Program and appreciated the coordinated efforts to date to manage this serious invasive pest, which has significantly restricted its incursion into other states.
Ministers noted that they were unable to meet in person in 2021 due to ongoing challenges with COVID-19 border restrictions.