Program 1.10: Agricultural resources
The objectives of this program are to:
- enhance the evidence-based information available to government and external decision makers by providing analysis and research on agricultural and primary industries, food, markets, products and environmental sustainability
- assist primary producers to develop more competitive, internationally focused and self-reliant industries
- assist industry to improve its productivity, sustainability and ability to adapt to climate change through the provision of research, analysis, tools, funding and other support for research, development and extension and food regulation
- improve animal welfare outcomes, including for the export of livestock, by coordinated action at the national and international levels
- support the development of a national food plan
- maintain appropriate industry regulatory functions and statutory funding for research and development
- provide advice and support to the minister on policy and reform matters relating to the National Registration Scheme for agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals.
Review of performance
This review addresses the deliverables identified in the 2011–12 Portfolio Budget Statements. Table 11 summarises the extent to which we have met key performance indicators.
Independent analysis and research
2011–12 marked the second year of integrated research capability within the department through ABARES. ABARES delivered a range of products and services, including integrated research, scientific assessments and reviews and economic analyses across our portfolio industries. The year saw a particular emphasis on an integrated research approach for fisheries and biosecurity research and outputs for the draft Murray–Darling Basin Plan.
Our research priorities for 2011–12 reflect the shared objectives of the department and our external clients and stakeholders.
In April 2012, ABARES released its formal statement of professional independence:
'ABARES aims to maintain a public presence and reputation for analysis based on the best available scientific and economic research. Outputs need not necessarily reflect the government's views or policy positions'.
To better anticipate issues that may impact on the department and its portfolio industries, ABARES and the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer maintain an active involvement in horizon scanning through the Australasian Joint Agencies Scanning Network (AJASN). This is a network of key stakeholders from a range of Australian and some New Zealand government, university and industry organisations. Network members share their scans through a database that includes information relevant to the department.
The AJASN representatives met quarterly in 2011–12 to determine key themes arising from scanning. AJASN produced and distributed four quarterly and one annual report.
Central themes arising included:
- social media and government's new role
- new materials
- robots, demographic shifts and changing employment.
APS200 Forum—science in policy
The APS200 is a leadership forum for the Australian Public Service (APS). The forum is undertaking a leading role in communicating the vision of the future APS and building the understanding, engagement and commitment of staff to the reform agenda. The APS200 project 'Place of Science in Policy Development in the Public Service' is reviewing the ways in which scientific input is used to inform the development of APS policy.
The project will make recommendations to encourage the uptake of scientific input in future policy development, including whether there is a need for a wider framework to identify policy priorities that require scientific input. DAFF has a long history and well embedded practice in utilising science to underpin policy and programs. The APS200 Forum offers an opportunity to share our experiences and continually improve our practices through learning from others.
Supporting biosecurity with research and development
During the year, the department worked with state and territory departments and research organisations to establish a national capacity for biosecurity benefit–cost analysis to support decision making on managing incursions of pests and diseases. Using this capacity, ABARES:
- completed a report on a benefit–cost framework for responding to an incursion of Varroa mite, a potential threat to the Australia honey bee industry
- developed models and compiled economic data sets to predict the spread and impact of Siam weed, imported red fire ants and black-striped mussel
- provided a report to Plant Health Australia on benefit–cost analysis of the National Fruit Fly Strategy Action Plan.
The ABARES chief scientist chairs the Research, Development and Extension Working Group under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity. This group is helping to define a multi-disciplinary system to ensure research and development activities are coordinated and aligned with biosecurity priorities. The chief scientist is also a member of the CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship engagement team, which has assisted CSIRO in consolidating biosecurity research efforts into a proposed 'Biosecurity Flagship'.
ABARES also provided scientific advice to support:
- the Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer on weed incursions and established weed and pest issues
- the National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions, which is a collaborative effort of the Australian Government, the state and Northern Territory governments, marine industries, researchers and conservation groups
- the Surveillance Reference Group on modelling and analysis of mango malformation disease spread and potential surveillance approaches
- implementation of analytical tools for quarantine auditing and inspection regimes for different plant quarantine pathways.
ABARES administered the Australian Pest Animal Research Program, which funds research to develop and promote improved approaches to managing and monitoring agricultural pest animals. In 2011–12, the program held an open call for new research proposals. Thirteen projects were successful and received total funding of more than $920 000. Funded projects included research on rabbits, wild dogs and mice, as well as education and awareness raising activities. ABARES continues to research the costs and benefits of alternative options of addressing wild dog issues for Australian agriculture and the wider community.
A four-year research project exploring factors that influence community engagement in biosecurity has been completed, leading to the development of a proposed national engagement framework, guidelines, engagement plans, practical checklists and information sheets to support future activities.
Climate change and variability
ABARES provided research, analysis and advice on climate related issues, including: impacts of past, present and future climates on portfolio industries; adaptation and mitigation opportunities for primary industries; and economic impacts of climate change policies.
In December 2011, ABARES released its report on Possible short-run effects of a carbon pricing scheme on Australian agriculture research, which analysed the implications of carbon pricing for Australia's broadacre and dairy industries and related processing sectors in 2012–13 and 2014–15.
Through ABARES, we continued to provide weekly climate, water and agricultural updates, which provide a regular snapshot of recent climatic, production and economic conditions for stakeholders and various research and financial institutions. ABARES also produces regular briefings and analysis on recent and upcoming climatic conditions and the likely economic and production impacts of these conditions on Australian agriculture.
In February 2012, ABARES conducted a workshop to discuss the technical feasibility of developing a crop forecasting system, involving experts in remote sensing and biophysical modelling from the Asia–Pacific region's major agricultural organisations.
To inform stakeholders and support decision making, ABARES provides quarterly commodity briefings:
- 'Agricultural commodities' provides forecasts and market analyses for major Australian agricultural commodities to underpin the department's development of high quality policies
- 'Australian crop report' provides a consistent and regular assessment of broadacre crop prospects for major field crops and a summary of seasonal conditions.
ABARES refined AusRegion—its computable general equilibrium model of Australia's national economy—improving its industry investment and macroeconomic modules. We also updated the accompanying database for the national economy and added several new regions, including Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. This development work has supported ABARES' contributions to the Marine Bioregion Planning process and analysis of the draft Murray–Darling Basin Plan.
The development of the ABARES global computable general equilibrium model—GTEM—focused on agricultural industries in support of international projections of global food production, consumption and trade. ABARES also co-hosted a workshop on computable general equilibrium modelling in July 2011. The workshop was attended by representatives of the Australian, state and territory governments, the New Zealand government and academia.
In 2011–12, ABARES conducted the following surveys and associated analysis:
- the annual Australian agricultural and grazing industries survey (AAGIS) and Australian dairy industry survey, to monitor the economic performance of broadacre and dairy farms and support productivity analysis and national drought policy reform. Funding support was provided by Meat and Livestock Australia, the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Dairy Australia
- the fifth large scale survey of irrigation farms throughout the Murray–Darling Basin, to provide data for an integrated program of research into water policy interests. This survey was funded by the National Water Commission and the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC)
- the fifth survey of Australian vegetable growing farms, to monitor the economic performance of vegetable growers. Funding support for this survey was provided by Horticulture Australia Limited.
ABARES research played an important part in the department's work in informing government on the effects of the temporary suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011. The analysis of additional survey data from producers in northern live cattle export regions provided timely information to decision makers on the likely impact of the suspension in the affected regions. The AAGIS data were also used extensively to inform the policy discussion around the northern Australian beef industry's potential to diversify and grow as part of the Northern Australian Beef Industry Strategy.
Land use and management
ABARES worked with state and territory agencies and CSIRO, using satellite imagery, to provide nationally consistent and regularly updated ground cover information. Data from the Ground Cover Monitoring for Australia project will be used to help assess targets for soil condition and land management. Another use of satellite imagery is the National Dynamic Land Cover Dataset, produced by Geoscience Australia and ABARES. This dataset is the first nationally consistent land cover reference for Australia. It provides a baseline for reporting on changes and trends in and the extent of vegetation cover. Information about land cover dynamics assists scientists in tracking land use and land management changes and analysing a range of national challenges such as drought, salinity, water availability and ecosystem health.
ABARES published the Science and Economic Insights report Landscapes in transition: tracking land use change in Australia. This report reviews some of the challenges researchers and policy makers face when tracking changes in land use in Australia for agricultural and natural resources management purposes. It identifies how land use change can be characterised and illustrates how these concepts can be applied using examples in cropping and forestry. The report also identifies requirements to accurately track land use change and determine priorities for reporting land use change.
Completion of a project investigating the feasibility of establishing an Australian office of the Global Land Project, focusing on land use and food, is expected later in 2012. This work is part of a broader project on technical cooperation in Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) food security, funded through the department's International Agricultural Cooperation (IAC) program. Other components of the IAC project have been completed. This includes a collaborative technical study between ABARES and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) on the application of spatial decision support methods to assess agricultural land capability in north-east China.
ABARES and CAAS signed a memorandum of understanding in August 2011. This agreement provides the basis for an enduring relationship, covering research areas of mutual interest in agricultural land use and land resources assessment. The focal point of interest is the intersection of issues around food security with land use decision making.
In addition, Australia, through ABARES, contributed to an APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group workshop on the effects of climate change on crop productivity and food security, held in Beijing in July 2012. The objective of the workshop was to promote technical capability among APEC economies on how to deal with the effects of climate change on crop productivity and food security.
Outlook conference and Science and Innovation Awards
With its theme of Future landscapes, the ABARES Outlook 2012 conference in March drew leading international speakers to Canberra. The international guests joined nationally recognised speakers and ABARES economists and scientists to focus on the outlook for Australia's key agricultural, forestry and fisheries commodities and those issues influencing future landscapes.
Delegates were brought up to date on issues such as the economic outlook for Australia and for international economies; expectations for farm sector performance; the outlook and industry trends for key commodities, including grains, meat, dairy, forestry, horticulture and fibres; global food markets in 2050; and the future of water policy reform in the Murray–Darling Basin.
For those not able to attend, the opening and closing sessions were streamed live online. The conference sessions were also filmed for the ABARES YouTube channel. By the end of June 2012, the Outlook 2012 YouTube site had received more than 3300 views. The previous year's conference has had more than 20 000 YouTube views to date.
The department's commitment to investing in research and development was showcased with the presentation of the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. During the conference dinner, we recognised 11 award recipients for innovative research projects that aim to keep Australia's rural industries sustainable and profitable. These annual Science and Innovation Awards, open to 18–35 year olds, are supported by portfolio research and development corporations.
ABARES provided community social and demographic profiles and statistics to support policy development for the department and other clients. ABARES' work contributed to the development of the National Food Plan Issues paper and supported evidence-based policy relating to social inclusion in agriculture through the DAFF Indigenous Working Group. Several highlights include:
- a social network analysis to examine communication and governance, to support weed management across Australia
- the social and economic dimensions of farmers' markets in Australia
- requirements for socio-economic information to support natural resource management policy and programs
- a review of needs for information and support to develop the agricultural sector in Mongolia
- a review of labour and skills needs in the horticulture industry across Australia.
ABARES continued to undertake a range of research aimed at assisting government and industry stakeholders to develop policies directed at enhancing the efficiency of Australia's rural industries. This research included projects on measuring productivity, analysing factors influencing productivity growth and evaluating the productivity impacts of specific rural policies.
ABARES looked particularly at the importance of innovation in driving productivity growth in the grains industry. In addition, we carried out an assessment of the data required to measure the performance of Australia's rural research, development and extension system. ABARES published its findings in 67 reports and 14 conference papers (see Appendix 8).
ABARES also provided technical advice to various government departments on new and emerging technologies that may improve sustainable agricultural production, food security and utility of genetic resources of domesticated plant and animal species.
ABARES modelled the socioeconomic impacts of the sustainable diversion limit options contained in the Draft Murray–Darling Basin Plan for the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). The draft plan was released in November 2011. The ABARES analysis was one of several studies used to help inform the development of the draft plan. The analysis also looked at the offsetting effects of the SEWPaC Water for the Future initiative, which includes purchasing water entitlements from irrigators and investing in water saving irrigation infrastructure.
ABARES provided scientific advice and analysis on ground and surface water issues. A highlight was ABARES' contribution to a rapid regional prioritisation process for coal and coal seam gas developments for the Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining, led by Geoscience Australia. ABARES also contributed to the National Water Commission's Australian water markets report 2010–2011 and provided maps showing the location and intensity of water trading activities in Australia and their climatic context.
ABARES assessed the implications of the expected increase in global food demand by 2050 on Australian food exports. The report 'Global food demand to 2050: opportunities for Australia' was released at the Outlook 2012 conference. For this analysis, ABARES developed an economic simulation model of global agricultural demand and trade. The model was used to prepare annual demand projections towards 2050.
Further work on this project plans to analyse the challenges posed by the growing global demand for food on Australian agriculture.
Foreign investment is a significant force in the development of the Australian economy, including agriculture. It helps increase production and efficiency and improves Australia's food security. The department released an ABARES report in January 2012 to inform public debate on this issue.
The report reviewed mechanisms used in a number of other countries to monitor foreign investment. It concluded that the regular collection of information on foreign ownership in Australian agriculture be considered as a means of providing transparency to the public and contributing to better informed policy making. On releasing the report, the government announced that the Australian Bureau of Statistics would collect data on foreign ownership in the future, expanding the information that is available to the Australian community.
ABARES has developed tools and systems that provide ready access to information to support evidence-based decision making by the department and its stakeholders.
The Monitor provides online access to a range of climatic, production, biophysical and economic information, for various regions throughout Australia. The Monitor allows users to explore and report on temporal and point-based data and information at various regional scales and provides a flexible mapping interface to view spatial data.
The Multi Criteria Analysis Shell for Spatial Decision Support (MCAS–S) allows policy makers and land managers to visualise and combine different types of information through interactive mapping of scenarios. This tool provides decision makers with a better understanding of the relationships between available data. MCAS–S brings the multi-criteria analysis process into the decision maker's realm without the need for complex GIS software. MCAS–S is available on the DAFF website.
ABARES also developed a web information portal for airborne electromagnetic projects under the previous National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. The portal presents an overview of airborne electromagnetic mapping surveys for natural resource management conducted across Australia over the past 20 years.
The aim of the website is to communicate the outcomes of salinity surveys to the general public, as well as managers and technical experts. It provides access to relevant reports and data products in one place and presents findings in easily accessible summaries.
Case study: A weather eye on Australian agriculture
The Monitor, a one-stop shop for climate, water and production data on Australian agriculture, provides insight into the day-to-day climatic risks faced by producers. It helps users to assess the risks to agricultural productivity posed by climate variability and make better land management decisions.
ABARES designed the online tool to support government decision making in an environment where there is an increasing need for accurate, current and accessible information.
The Monitor's integration of information and functionality allows users to analyse climate, biophysical, land use, production and economic data across Australia. Users can access information in the form of maps, graphs and tables and generate a range of up-to-date reports for each region. Users can select current and historical data and a flexible mapping page allows them to easily compare analyses using side-by-side maps.
Since the Monitor's release in October 2011, there has been growing interest within Australia and internationally. The United States National Climate Centre has requested access to the web services and is collaborating with ABARES to incorporate soil moisture and rainfall information from the Monitor into its National Drought Information System. This collaboration forms part of an international project to develop a global drought information system.
The Monitor uses a web service framework that reduces the system complexity and maintenance costs. An added benefit is the ability to easily reuse or extend the tool's functionality for future DAFF web information delivery, while reducing future development costs. The Monitor is already widely recognised as delivering Government 2.0 goals through open access to information.
More information about the Monitor is available on our website.
Keeping a weather eye on Australia
Supporting trade with research and development
ABARES has contributed to the department's work on market access issues. This has included briefing and economic analysis on the potential impacts of bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations on Australia's agricultural market access; for example, on special and sensitive products under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In addition, ABARES completed a capacity building project, together with several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, to provide training in analysis and interpretation of results flowing from the agricultural trade liberalisation using a global trade model. This project contributes to strengthening bilateral relations with participating countries and supports Australia's trade liberalising efforts. This activity also supports our international strategy on ASEAN countries to improve international market access.
Rural industries policy and initiatives
Water and irrigation
DAFF advised the minister on the implications of the Draft Murray–Darling Basin Plan on portfolio industries and on other issues relating to broader water reform. The department also contributed to whole-of-government deliberations to enhance opportunities for portfolio stakeholders to benefit from improvements in rural infrastructure and to participate in the digital economy following the roll out of the National Broadband Network.
The Murray–Darling Basin Plan continued to be a focus of activity in 2011–12. We worked closely with the MDBA, SEWPaC and other agencies with an interest in water resource planning to ensure the views of portfolio stakeholders were adequately represented in government policy deliberations on water reform. Following the release of the draft basin plan, officers from the department attended MDBA community information sessions to gauge stakeholder views on water reform issues. Officers responded to issues relating to the portfolio and heard directly the concerns of farmers and rural communities.
We oversaw a number of programs to assist primary producers, including irrigators in the Murray–Darling Basin, to better manage risk, to adopt more sustainable farming practices and prepare for the challenges of climate change (see Program 1.1 and Program 1.2).
Northern Australian Sustainable Futures Program
As part of the Northern Australia Beef Industry Strategy, an election commitment under the Northern Australia Sustainable Futures Program, the department was allocated $500 000 to develop the Indigenous Pastoral Project to build capacity and partnerships for sustainability.
We consulted extensively with Indigenous pastoralists, government representatives of the northern jurisdictions, producer lobby groups, northern Australian land councils, the Indigenous Land Corporation and Indigenous Business Australia.
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), under contract to the department, hosted a stakeholder forum in Alice Springs in March 2012 and the minister announced details of the project in April 2012. The project aims to assist Indigenous pastoralists to develop their properties into more productive enterprises on a commercially viable and sustainable basis. RIRDC started implementing the project in June 2012.
National productivity agenda
The Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI) has been pursuing an agenda to enhance the productivity, profitability and competitiveness of primary industries through a coordinated, cross-jurisdictional approach.
In October 2011, ministers endorsed an agricultural productivity work plan, which is now being implemented under the Primary Industries Standing Committee (PISC). The work plan comprises seven projects, including biotechnology in agriculture, regulatory reform and building human capital. The work plan will be expanded to encompass productivity growth drivers and opportunities for fisheries, forestry and aquaculture.
We worked with the states and territories, through PISC's Industries Development Committee, to progress these projects. The department has taken the lead on two projects:
- consistent application of modern biotechnology in agriculture
- review of regulatory constraints.
This work will support the standing council's focus on promoting the ongoing productivity and sustainability of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.
We also provided policy and secretariat support to the parliamentary Working Group on Water, Soil and Food. The working group developed a forward work program, which will be delivered to the Prime Minister in early 2012–13. The working group identified key activities and policy responses that impact on soil quality, water quality and food production, as well as links between policy areas that have potentially important implications for agricultural productivity. We worked with other relevant departments to provide advice on links and gaps between current and proposed policies and initiatives. We also supported an expert reference panel in providing advice to the working group.
New and emerging technologies
We provided policy advice and support on new and emerging technologies, including the use and potential of applying biotechnology and nanotechnology in portfolio industries. The department engaged other Australian Government agencies on these issues, including Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator and the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.
We are leading the development of the agricultural productivity work plan project for the consistent application of modern biotechnology in agriculture. The project aims to develop a national strategy that considers constraints to the adoption of biotechnology in agriculture and outlines a clear path to market for emerging biotechnology applications where appropriate.
Internationally, the department participated in the APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology in Russia in May 2012. The meeting focused on work to enhance the transparency of regulatory approaches and the role agricultural biotechnologies can play in addressing food security and climate change.
We also attended the 2nd Knowledge-Based Bio-economy Forum in Canada in October 2011, which aimed to enhance research, innovation, policy dialogue and scientific cooperation between the European Commission, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The department worked with the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator to further develop a guidance document to coordinate Australian Government agencies responsible for managing the unintended presence of unapproved genetically modified organisms in Australia.
Agricultural labour and skills
Skilling and educating the agricultural workforce, as well as securing an adequate supply of suitable labour, are key to keeping the Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors competitive and profitable. In 2011–12, the minister gave the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry particular responsibility for agricultural labour and skills policy.
The department delivers programs to build the capacity of farmers and land managers and engages other government agencies to help industry meet its demands for skilled and unskilled labour. The department also works with external stakeholders to increase awareness of agricultural careers and education opportunities.
During 2011–12, we contributed to migration reform, including the development of the new Seasonal Worker Program. The program builds on the success of the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme by providing ongoing access to seasonal workers for the horticulture industry and will provide opportunities for other portfolio industries.
We also supported the development of a new work program for the National Rural Advisory Council, which includes a focus on skills and workforce capabilities of agricultural employers.
Rural research and development
Policy and planning
In 2009, the government established a coordinating Rural Research and Development Council to provide independent advice on rural research and development. Our secretariat and policy support for the council continued until the completion of its three-year term in December 2011. Issues considered by the council included the encouragement of business investment and performance measurement and reporting for the rural research and development system.
ABARES further developed the council's preliminary measuring and reporting framework for the rural research, development and extension (RD&E) system, which the council proposed in its March 2011 National Strategic Rural Research and Development Investment Plan. The ABARES report—'Measuring and reporting trends relating to the performance of Australia's rural RD&E system'—was published in May 2012.
At the initiative of the council, in September 2011 we began publishing a quarterly 'Rural research and development update', designed to provide interested stakeholders with regular updates on policy and program developments.
Throughout 2011–12, we worked on the development of a government policy statement on rural research and development. The policy statement included the government's response to the Productivity Commission's Rural Research and Development Corporations Inquiry Report and to the council's investment plan. To inform the statement, the department organised meetings for stakeholder consultations in November 2011. Approximately 100 people attended 10 meetings, held in Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig, with viticulturist Mary Retallack, winner of the 2012 South Australian Rural Women's Award from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
We continued to contribute to the implementation of the National Primary Industries RD&E Framework, which provides for national collaboration and continuous improvement in rural RD&E. SCoPI approved strategies on cotton, wool, biofuels and bioenergy and water use in agriculture. PISC agreed to the development of a new cross-sectoral strategy on soils (see Program 1.2) and provided $250 000 to implement the framework.
Research and development corporations
We advised the minister on governance issues relating to the Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC), the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. The department works with these corporations to ensure they meet their legislative requirements.
SRDC and CRDC are the statutory corporations that invest in research and development on behalf of sugar producers and processors, and in the cotton industry. RIRDC is the statutory corporation that commissions research and development on behalf of new and emerging rural industries and on cross-sectoral issues. RIRDC also collects statutory levies and receives matching funding from government for research and development on behalf of a number of established rural industries (the chicken meat, honey bee, rice, pasture seeds, ratite, goat fibre, kangaroo, buffalo and deer industries).
We manage the statutory funding agreement between the Commonwealth and the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL). AECL invests in research and development and marketing and promotion services on behalf of the egg industry. In 2011–12, we worked with AECL to progress a new statutory funding agreement. AECL continued to meet its statutory obligations.
In July 2011, the minister agreed to the Deer Industry Association of Australia's submission to reduce deer levy rates and charges. The changes to the deer slaughter levy, deer velvet levy, deer velvet export charge and deer export charge came into effect in October 2011.
Livestock export reform
In May 2011, the ABC's 'Four Corners' program on the mistreatment of animals in Indonesian abattoirs generated intense community reaction. The trade of livestock for slaughter purposes to Indonesia was suspended for four weeks, with the reopening of the trade in July 2011 based on a new regulatory framework, to ensure that World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare requirements are met throughout the supply chain up to, and including, the point of slaughter. A range of assistance was made available to individuals and businesses affected by the suspension of trade.
The minister appointed Mr Bill Farmer AO to undertake an independent review of Australia's livestock export trade and requested that the Chief Veterinary Officer undertake a scientific assessment of the Australian-installed restraint boxes being used for the slaughter of cattle and buffalo in Indonesia.
Live export reforms
Reports of mistreatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia last year caused widespread and pressing public concern about animal welfare standards within the livestock export trade to Indonesia. As a first step in a series of measures designed to ensure the sustainability of Australia's livestock export trade to Indonesia, the Australian Government suspended the trade of feeder/slaughter livestock to Indonesia between 7 June 2011 and 6 July 2011.
Following the publication of the reports of mistreatment, the government moved quickly to investigate and develop a new regulatory framework that would address the animal welfare concerns and consequently ensure the sustainability of Australia's livestock export industry. The livestock export industry is an important part of Australia's pastoral industry, employing around 10 000 people in rural and regional Australia.
In cooperation with industry, the government developed the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), which requires Australian exporters to demonstrate that they:
- comply with internationally agreed animal welfare requirements of the OIE
- can maintain control of animals through the supply chain
- can trace their animals through the supply chain
- have in place independent auditing and reporting
The department implemented the new ESCAS regulatory requirements in July 2011 to enable the resumption of the livestock trade to Indonesia. On 21 October 2011, the government announced that it would adapt and extend the new framework to all feeder and slaughter livestock markets during 2012. Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Turkey were included under the new regulatory requirements from 1 March 2012, covering 75 per cent of trade.
The department will roll out the new regulatory requirements in two further tranches on 1 September and 31 December to cover 100 per cent of the trade by the end of 2012. The new framework outlines clear exporter responsibilities and provides for a strong regulatory response where there is evidence of performance below the standards. It will help promote better animal welfare outcomes for livestock exported from Australia and other animals that are processed through the approved supply chains.
In June and August 2011, the government also announced several packages to assist individuals and companies whose businesses were affected by the suspension of the livestock export trade to Indonesia.
Cattle awaiting overseas transport
The review examined the whole livestock export supply chain—from paddock to the point of slaughter—for all livestock species to all markets that receive Australian livestock. Professor David Mellor ONZM and Dr Robin Vandegraaff were engaged as independent subject matter specialists to assist in the technical aspects of the review.
The review members visited nine key markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and visited feedlots and abattoirs. This provided an understanding of the varied supply chains in different markets and the challenges faced in each. The members met a number of government, industry and animal welfare organisations, both nationally and internationally.
The final report was provided to the minister on 31 August 2011. In its response on 21 October 2011, the government accepted all 14 of the review's recommendations.
Full implementation of recommendations relating to domestic parts of the supply chain requires action by the states, territories and industry, as well as the Australian Government. Implementation of these recommendations will result in standards that are clearer and more effective, with transparent lines of responsibility between governments for regulating the supply chain and industry quality assurance systems that complement government regulation.
The recommendations relating to the overseas parts of the supply chain resulted in an extension of the regulatory framework principles implemented for the Indonesian market. The arrangements result in increased assurance around the welfare of all Australian livestock exported for slaughter purposes.
The implementation of the recommendations has involved the development and roll-out of detailed business processes and policy to implement the new framework, significant engagement with industry and exporters, comprehensive discussions with importing countries and considerable activity by industry to establish arrangements in line with the new requirements.
Assisting Australian exporters to improve animal welfare
The government also made assistance available to exporters to help develop supply chains to adequate standards. The $5 million Approved Supply Chain Improvements Program supports Australia's livestock export industry to meet the requirements of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System. Government funds were provided on the basis of $1 for every $3 of industry investment.
The program funded eligible infrastructure upgrades and training and helped Australian exporters develop supply chain systems that meet the OIE animal welfare standards. The program is available to eligible applicants, such as Australian livestock exporters, but not to importing countries or foreign businesses.
Assisting importing countries to improve animal welfare
The government made available $10 million in funding to improve animal welfare outcomes in official development assistance countries that import livestock from Australia. The Improved Animal Welfare Program has been developed to assist a select number of eligible countries to achieve animal welfare standards set by the OIE.
Australian Animal Welfare Strategy
The Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) 2010–14 provides a national framework to identify animal welfare priorities and coordinate stakeholder action to deliver improved outcomes for all Australian animals. In 2011–12, the government contributed $991 000 to support the strategy's implementation, including funding projects identified by the AAWS working groups. A national workshop of 140 stakeholders was held in August 2011 to launch phase 2 of the strategy.
In October 2011, the minister appointed a new Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee to assist with delivery of the AAWS and provide advice on strategic and emerging animal welfare issues. Approximately 130 experts and stakeholder representatives are members of the committee's nine expert working groups on:
- livestock and production animals
- native and feral wildlife
- aquatic animals
- companion animals
- animals used in research and teaching
- animals used for work, recreation, entertainment and display
- education and training
- research and development
Stakeholders have identified four goals under the AAWS to focus investment and activities:
- the welfare needs of animals are understood and met
- national systems deliver consistent animal welfare outcomes and prioritise ongoing improvements
- people make ethical decisions regarding animal welfare, supported by knowledge and skills
- Australia is actively engaged in international partnerships and developments to improve animal welfare.
We are working to enhance communications about the AAWS and its achievements as part of phase 2. In November 2011, we launched a new AAWS website. The advisory committee and expert working groups are currently developing more comprehensive information and case studies to establish the website as a major knowledge portal.
Through the next phase to 2013–14, greater contributions are flowing from our stakeholders, particularly the states and territories, for activities under the strategy. This is specified in the National Implementation Plan and will give better effect to the strategy's national status. An annual business plan will be prepared for the AAWS and an annual report presented against that plan. This will provide greater transparency and improve the capacity to report progress against goals and objectives.
Under the strategy goals, we continued to contribute to the development of national standards and guidelines:
- work was progressed on standards and guidelines for cattle, sheep and exhibited animals (zoo animals)
- draft animal welfare guidelines for dogs and cats are being considered by stakeholders
- welfare protocols were finalised by the Australian Horse Industry Council and the Zoo and Aquarium Association and baseline surveys for horses and working dogs were conducted by the working group on animals in work, recreation, entertainment and display
- the aquatic animals working group continued to develop best practice guidelines for the welfare of wild caught fish and conducting research into the humane killing of fish.
We also supported national communications and consultation with stakeholders on the new land transport regulations being developed by the states and territories. We provided $20 000 for the DAFF Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and sponsored a workshop on pain relief at the annual Australian Veterinary Association conference in May 2012.
We continued to sponsor the implementation of the OIE Regional Strategy for Asia, the Far East and Oceania. The department chairs the coordination group and provides secretariat support. The Australian New Zealand OIE Collaborating Centre on Animal Welfare Science and Bioethical Analysis has finalised a twinning application with University Putra in Malaysia to assist capacity building in animal welfare science in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. The centre will run a pilot residential training course in animal welfare in New Zealand.
Engaging internationally on animal welfare
We made significant contributions to the OIE's work, providing the secretariat and funding for activities by the Regional Animal Welfare Strategy Coordination Group. The group met in Tokyo in November 2011 and in Bangkok in April 2012. We also participated in the OIE animal welfare focal point meeting in Tokyo in December 2011.
Australia's expertise and commitment to animal welfare has been internationally recognised with the appointment of Dr Peter Thornber, Director of Animal Welfare Policy with DAFF, to the OIE's Animal Welfare Working Group. Dr Thornber's appointment was announced at the conclusion of OIE's 80th General Session of the World Assembly in Paris on 25 May 2012. Australian representation will provide OIE with a valuable perspective from the Asia–Oceania region.
The fourth annual meeting of the European Union–Australia Animal Welfare Cooperation Forum was held in Brussels in February 2012, with a video link to Canberra. The forum promotes dialogue between Australia and the European Union (EU) on current animal welfare systems and reviews animal welfare activities and priorities. We also participated in the EU-sponsored conference: 'Implementing animal welfare through the new EU strategy: consumers' empowerment and market opportunities'.
We participated in the Food and Agriculture Organization's First Global Multi-Stakeholders Forum on Animal Welfare in March 2012. The department gave a presentation on Australia's animal welfare activities, highlighting Australia's livestock export reforms and emphasising our support for the use of appropriate stunning at slaughter.
Australia continued its contribution to the animal welfare work of the quadrilateral group of countries (Australia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand) at quarterly meetings. During 2010–11, the group's Animal Welfare Working Group continued work on the following activities:
- OIE animal welfare technical activities of operational and strategic significance
- bilateral and regional issues and developments relating to animal welfare
- assessment of the implications of the 2009 European Union Slaughter Regulation, to be implemented in 2013.
Food policy and regulation
National Food Plan
We continued to develop the National Food Plan, which aims to integrate policy across the food supply chain. The year began with public consultation on an issues paper. We received 279 written submissions and held 19 roundtable meetings around Australia, as well as a public webcast. The written submissions, a report on the roundtable meetings and the transcript from the webcast are on our website.
In October 2011, the minister announced the government's decision to develop the National Food Plan through a green paper/white paper process. An interagency taskforce, led by DAFF, developed the green paper, taking into account stakeholder feedback on the issues paper. The green paper was released in July 2012.
We consulted state and territory governments on the development of the National Food Plan through SCoPI, the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation and the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum. In December 2011, we hosted a workshop with state and territory officials to seek their views on issues likely to be canvassed in the green paper. A number of ministerial advisory bodies have also been engaged in the development of the plan, including the National Food Policy Working Group, the Food Processing Industry Strategy Group and the Ministerial Advisory Council on Regional Australia.
Australia is in the fortunate position of producing significantly more food than we consume. In recent years, we have been able to export more than half of our food production. However, there are challenges to Australia's ability to increase food production, including climate change, resource constraints and a slowdown in agricultural productivity growth.
To ensure Australia can meet its current and future food needs, the department facilitates substantial investment in rural research and development, supports skills development and encourages adoption of innovative on-farm practices. This work helps support our primary producers to improve productivity and sustain Australia's natural resources into the future.
Australia's international approach to food security focuses on:
- addressing longer term issues that will affect food security
- alleviating the short-term impacts of food shortages and excessive price volatility on developing countries.
Australia is also committed to removing barriers to trade so that food can move more freely and farmers receive appropriate market signals. The department works to secure new and improved access to markets and contributes to the government's negotiations in the WTO's Doha Round and free trade agreements (see Program 1.13).
We also work with other Australian Government agencies, governments and intergovernmental bodies to address global food security.
We provide the secretariat for the National Food Policy Working Group. The working group, chaired by the minister, was established in 2010 as a forum for active communication between the food industry and government. Members are drawn from a range of sectors that contribute to the food supply chain and are appointed for their individual knowledge and expertise. The working group's third meeting was held in Brisbane in December 2011. Members provided insights on issues relevant to development of the National Food Plan green paper, including market power and food supply chain relationships, regulatory reform and innovation, research and development.
The department is an active participant in the National Food and Nutrition Leaders Science Forum, hosted by CSIRO, which is developing a cross-sectoral research, development and technology transfer strategy under the National Primary Industries RD&E Framework. Working groups have been identifying key challenges and research, development and technology transfer priorities in the six identified priority areas of:
- food, nutrition and health
- food safety
- climate change and resource efficiency
- technology transfer
- skills and training
- future market opportunities.
The report 'FOODMap: An analysis of the Australian food supply chain' was released in February 2012. The report investigated individual food category supply chains and identified 'pressure points', opportunities and challenges resulting from dynamics that are often particular to each sector of the food industry. The report is published on our website.
Australian food standards
We worked closely with the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) to develop agreed Australian Government positions on proposed amendments to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, which is administered by FSANZ. Key amendments gazetted were the introduction of new 'paddock-to-plate' primary processing standards for seed sprouts and some raw-milk cheese products. Work continues on amendment of the code to mandate country-of-origin labelling on unpackaged meat products.
Australian Standard for organic and biodynamic produce
The department, as a member of the Standards Australia FT–032 technical committee, continued to contribute to the administration and maintenance of the Australian Standard for organic and biodynamic products and the supporting certification procedures. The second set of amendments to these publications was prepared for public consultation, with decisions to be confirmed by Standards Australia in late 2012.
Food labelling law and policy
We worked closely with the DoHA and other agencies to develop agreed Australian Government responses to recommendations from the independent review of food labelling law and policy, 'Labelling logic'. The government's positions informed the response to the review from the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation, which was agreed in December 2011. The forum approved an implementation plan for the review's recommendations in March 2012 and we will contribute to these implementation activities in 2012–13.
The department was also represented in other significant food regulation policy issues. We made a submission to the National Health and Medical Research Council's review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines. In August 2011, the department appeared before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics inquiry into the Food Standards Amendment (Truth In Labelling—Palm Oil) Bill 2011.
International food standards
We play a key role in ensuring the scientific and technical evidence base is appropriately considered in the development of food standards, both domestically and internationally. These include the standards developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and food standards measures developed by other countries and notified through the WTO's Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and the Technical Barriers to Trade agreement. Our advice is developed in collaboration with the Australian food industry, research groups and other departments. The aim is to reduce barriers that may impact on the Australian food industry's international market access opportunities.
Our policy advice focuses on issues and commodities that are deemed high priority following consultation with the food industry. In particular, we provide expert policy advice on food safety risk assessment, food hygiene, food additives, food labelling, and nutrition. To ensure the interests of our portfolio industries are represented, we also provide scientific policy advice on food standards related to horticultural products, such as fresh and processed fruits, and vegetables and other food commodities, such as fats and oils.
Agricultural and veterinary chemicals
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has a reform agenda to reduce the regulatory burden on business and increase efficiency. We contributed to this reform agenda through our membership on the Product Safety and Integrity Committee and the Animal Welfare and Product Integrity Taskforce. A decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) will be completed later in 2012 to support COAG's consideration of options for implementing a single national regulatory system for agricultural and veterinary chemicals. The RIS is expected to be published once COAG has made a decision on the reforms.
As part of a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership initiative we worked on measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agvet chemicals regulation by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). These measures ensured a continued high level of protection for human health and the environment, as well as improved community confidence in agvet chemicals regulation. Draft legislation was circulated to stakeholders for comment, with more than 30 meetings and workshops held between November 2011 and the end of February 2012. We received more than 70 submissions.
We have begun revising the draft legislation to ensure it achieves the government's aims while addressing stakeholder concerns. The final legislation is scheduled for introduction to parliament in the spring 2012 session. The government is providing approximately $8.8 million over four years to the APVMA, to assist in the implementation of these reforms.
Provision of funding to assist in the processing of permits for minor use of agvet chemicals
The Australian Government provided $135 000 to assist the APVMA's permit program with processing minor use applications. This program helps many industries access agvet chemicals that are not available to them due to the high cost of registering pest controls for a small market.
In conjunction with SEWPaC, we attended international technical advisory meetings on agvet chemicals. This included attending the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, where we assessed new pesticides that could be listed under these conventions.
DAFF officers also participated in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Pesticides meetings. This included a workshop to help member countries harmonise and improve pesticide assessment and control procedures, minimise non-tariff trade barriers, and reduce risks to human health and the environment from the use of pesticides. Australia made an annual voluntary financial contribution to the Working Group on Pesticides and the Taskforce on Biocides.
Key performance indicators
|Key performance indicator||2011–12 target||Achievement|
|Research, advice, forecasts, projects, products and data services are provided on time||85%||Not met||Met||Met|
|Performance: ABARES either met or exceeded this performance target in relation to delivery of key products—briefings, forecasts and advice and data services—however, results from ABARES' annual client and stakeholder survey indicate the need to improve timeliness around delivery of some of our other research product services.|
|Research, advice, forecasts, projects, products and data services are provided within budget||85%||Met||Met||Met|
|Performance: The end of year financial outcome indicates that ABARES achieved its overall target.|
|Client satisfaction with research, advice, forecasts, projects, products and data services||90%||Met||Met||Met|
|Performance: Feedback from ABARES annual client and stakeholder survey indicates that ABARES research and other products are highly valued and considered an important and trusted source of information.|
|Timely assessment and reporting on industry competitiveness and adjustment issues||100%||Met||Met||Met|
|Performance: DAFF supports livestock, cropping, horticulture, food and beverage industries to be productive, competitive and sustainable. We facilitate the more efficient and effective delivery of R&D to agricultural, food and fibre industries. We help develop a more efficient and effective national system of agricultural and veterinary chemicals regulation. We further develop our understanding of the drivers of and impediments to agricultural productivity growth and apply this to support the development of policies and programs to contribute to increased agriculture and food industry productivity.|
|Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL) and Rural Industries, Sugar and Cotton Research and Development Corporations' compliance with statutory funding agreements and relevant legislation||100%||Met||Met||Met|
|Performance: DAFF is satisfied that the organisations have materially met their planning, reporting and legislative obligations.|
|Meet regularly with sugar, cotton, egg, game and intensive livestock and new industry representative bodies to discuss policy issues||2 meetings||Met||Met||Met|
|Performance: DAFF met industry representative bodies as required to discuss issues.|
|All levy payments made in accordance with statutory funding agreements and legislation||100%||Met||Met||–|
|Performance: DAFF has regularly met this target. In 2011–12, all payments were made on time and in accordance with agreements.|
|Meet with industry service providers to discuss obligations under the statutory funding agreements and relevant legislation||2 meetings||Partially met||Met||Met|
Performance: The department held regular meetings with the sugar, cotton and rural industries research and development corporations as required to discuss industry issues.|
The department met the AECL in January 2012 to discuss industry issues as required under the 2006–11 statutory funding agreement.
|A new statutory funding agreement (SFA) with the Australian Egg Corporation Limited is in place||New SFA agreed||Not met||–||–|
|Performance: The new AECL statutory funding agreement will be finalised in early 2012–13. This is a new indicator.|
|Timely contribution to the development of Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines for production and non-production animals||100%||Met||Met||–|
|Performance: DAFF chaired and provided the secretariat to the reformed Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and assisted with preparation of standards and guidelines for zoo animals, cattle and sheep. Regulatory impact assessments and public consultation will be completed before the standards and guidelines go to ministers for consideration.|
|Deliver the government's funding contribution to continue implementation of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS)||100%||Met||–||–|
Performance: 100% of AAWS 2011–12 funds were disbursed. The new Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee was established along with nine subordinate working groups involving 140 member participants.|
This is a new indicator.
|Deliver assistance to official development assistance (ODA) eligible countries that import Australian animals to improve their capacity to implement OIE animal welfare standards||3–5 projects||Met||–||–|
|Performance:In 2011–12, the Improved Animal Welfare Program funded projects to provide in-country training to government and abattoir workers on handling and slaughter of livestock and hosted two delegations of government officials to observe application of international standards during transport, handling and at the time of slaughter. We also engaged the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to develop and deliver training on its animal welfare standards in the ODA eligible countries. This is a new indicator.|
|Maintain effective distribution of funding to help deliver improved animal welfare outcomes in existing and new approved supply chains||50% of markets with approved supply chains||Met||–||–|
|Performance:The program provided reimbursements to Australian livestock exporters to the value of 25 per cent of their investment in approved supply chains under the exporter supply chain assurance system in Indonesia and Tranche 1 markets: Turkey; Bahrain; Kuwait; and Qatar. This is a new indicator.|
|Minister/parliamentary secretary and executive satisfied with the quality and timeliness of policy advice and support||High level of satisfaction achieved||Met||–||–|
|Performance: DAFF provided policy advice and support to the minister and parliamentary secretary. This advice has been received with a high level of satisfaction. This is a new indicator.|
|Food policy and regulation|
|Contribute to the development of an Australian Government response to the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy||100%||Met||–||–|
|Performance: The Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation released its response to the Blewett Review on 9 December 2011. DAFF liaised closely with the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) and other agencies to establish an agreed government response. This is a new indicator.|
|Contribute to the development of Australian Government positions on proposed amendments to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code||100%||Met||–||–|
|Performance: DAFF liaised with DoHA on all proposed amendments to the code and agreed on government positions to take into the Forum on Food Regulation. This is a new indicator.|
|Publish Australian Food Statistics by February each year.||100%||Partially met||Met||–|
|Performance: We released the 'Australian Food Statistics 2010–11' on the department's website on 2 April 2012.|
|Attend meetings of Standards Australia committee FT–032 Organic and Biodynamic Products with the representative organisation, the Organic Federation of Australia||2 meetings||Met||Partially met—1 meeting attended||–|
|Performance: DAFF participated in the one face-to-face meeting held in October 2011. The department also participated in meetings by teleconference, particularly to develop amendments to processes in the miscellaneous supporting publication to the Australian Standard for organic and biodynamic products.|
|Completion and publication of factual and policy documents for the National Food Plan||100%||Partially met||–||–|
|Performance: On 27 October 2011, the minister announced the Australian Government's decision to develop the National Food Plan through a green paper/white paper process. The government expects to release the National Food Plan green paper for public consultation in early 2012–13. This is a new indicator.|
|Agricultural and veterinary chemicalsa|
|Meet regularly with state and territory representatives to progress and implement policy reforms and legislative change||4 meetings||Met||–||–|
|Performance: The Product Safety and Integrity Committee met four times in 2011–2012 prior to its cessation in April 2012. This is a new indicator.|
|Attend international chemical forums in keeping with Australia's international obligations||3 meetings||Met||–||–|
Performance: We attended three meetings: Rotterdam Convention Chemical Review Committee's 8th meeting in March 2012 in Geneva; Stockholm Convention Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee 7th meeting in October 2011 in Geneva; and the OECD Risk Reduction Steering Group meeting in October 2011 in Berlin.|
Officers also attended meetings of the OECD Working Group on Pesticides and the International Cooperation on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Veterinary Medicinal Products Steering Committee in June 2012. This is a new indicator.
|Minister/parliamentary secretary and executive satisfied with the quality and timeliness of policy advice and support||High level of satisfaction achieved||Met||–||–|
|Performance: DAFF provided policy advice and support to the minister and parliamentary secretary. This advice has been received with a high level of satisfaction. This is a new indicator.|
a These indicators were previously reported under program 2.2.
Outlook for 2012–13
Our research priorities include providing ongoing analyses of climate change mitigation policies and options, particularly in relation to the introduction of a domestic carbon price, as well as providing input to the methodology development under the Carbon Farming Initiative.
ABARES' advice will underpin the development of policy and programs for the sustainable management and productivity of Australia's forests. We will provide integrated research and advice to support policy development and understanding of domestic and international fisheries. We will also provide advice to assess the capacity of Australian agriculture to meet the challenges and opportunities arising from long-term growth in global food demand. ABARES will provide extensive support to the department through a range of outputs on biosecurity issues, water and productivity.
The department will continue its close involvement in the water reform agenda.
In animal welfare, DAFF will complete the implementation of the new regulatory framework for livestock exports to all our international markets. Domestically, we will implement the updated Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock, following a comprehensive review, and work towards the implementation of the national Land Transport Standards across all jurisdictions. We will progress nationally consistent standards on animal welfare in key areas, including the cattle and sheep industries. We will continue our work to increase Australia's presence at the OIE through representation in key committees and working groups.
We will continue to develop the National Food Plan in consultation with stakeholders, including industry, consumers and other sectors. The government expects to release the National Food Plan white paper in 2012–13. We will continue to provide secretariat support to the Working Group on Water, Soil and Food as it implements its forward work program.
For food labelling, our priorities will include the implementation of the government response to the review of food labelling law and policy. This includes front-of-pack labelling, which has a December 2012 deadline as stipulated by the Forum on Food Regulation. Another priority will be to work with other departments towards greater clarity in country-of-origin labelling to help consumers make informed decisions. We will continue to work with DoHA and state, territory and New Zealand governments as part of our ongoing input into food regulatory policy and standards development by FSANZ.