Programme 1.10 Agricultural resources
- foster and enable productive, profitable, internationally competitive and sustainable primary industries, including food industries
- improve animal welfare outcomes, including for the export of livestock, by coordinated action at the national and internal levels
- support the National Registration Scheme for Agricultural and Veterinary (agvet) Chemicals.
This is a wide-ranging programme that encompasses key policy areas for our portfolio industries. In 2013-14, we provided policy advice and engaged stakeholders on water reform, agricultural productivity, capitalising on new technologies, building a skilled rural workforce, and research and development.
The department contributed to Australia's food and agricultural industries, including by assisting the initial development of the Government's Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and maintaining and improving Australian and international food standards.
We also worked with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to ensure the continued protection of human health and the environment.
We administered regulatory reforms for livestock exports to ensure animal welfare requirements were met throughout the supply chain. The department's work in domestic animal welfare changed during the year, following the Government's decision to reduce its involvement. State and territory governments will lead these matters, as these governments are responsible for the development of, and compliance with, animal production and welfare legislation.
More information is available on the department's website.
Key performance indicators
|Key performance indicator||2013–14 target||Performance|
|Effective policies, programmes and regulations that contribute to enhanced productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability||Accurate and timely advice provided||Met||Met||-|
|Engage with domestic and international stakeholders on industry issues||5 meetings||Met||Met||-|
|Effectively and timely contribution to amendments to Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code||Contribute to Food Standards Code||Met||Met||-|
|Timely publication of annual Australian Food Statistics report||Publish in February||Partially met b||Met||Partially met|
|Timely development and implementation of the strategy and the associated actions for research and development||Implement actions||Partially met||Partially met||-|
|Effective engagement with states and territories to delivery productivity work plan||Deliver productivity work plan||Partially met||Partially met||-|
|Work with jurisdictions on the development of priority national animal welfare standards||100%||Met||Met||-|
|Provision of funding to continue implementation of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy||100% of funds committed||Met||Met||Met|
|Provide assistance to official development assistance eligible countries that import livestock from Australia, by providing training and improving their capacity to implement OIE animal welfare standards||3–5 projects a||Met||Met||-|
|Work with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to implement reforms to its systems and processes in a timely manner in accord with legislation||Implement APVMA reforms||Met||Partially met||-|
|Progress reforms to the national agvet chemicals system in partnership with the states and territories||Implement reforms||Met||Partially met||-|
|All levy funds paid to portfolio agencies||100%||Met||Met||Met|
|Timely and effective engagement with portfolio agencies to ensure compliance with statutory funding agreements (as relevant), legislation and to discuss industry activities||2 meetings||Met||Met||Partially met|
|Integrated scientific and economic research–underpinning research, advice, forecast, projects, products and data services meet stakeholder expectations and are delivered within agreed timelines and in line with international research standards||85%||Met||Met||Partially met|
a This target was reduced from the previous year. b The publication of Australian Food Statistics is expected in early 2014-15.
Building agricultural productivity
Delivering the agricultural productivity work plan
We supported the delivery of the agricultural productivity work plan, which comprises projects being delivered by Australian, state and territory agencies.
In one project, ABARES investigated 32 rural policy issues to identify regulations that could be improved to raise the profitability of Australia's agriculture and forestry industries. The study found scope to reduce unnecessary burdens in eight areas of Australian Government regulation.
Other improvements were found to be available through addressing several cross-jurisdictional issues by enhancing coordinated state and territory government action. ABARES found inconsistencies between states and territories continue to impose regulatory burdens in approximately one-third of the issues examined.
Work continues on the delivery of the productivity work plan. The department's target for this key performance indicator was 'partially met' in 2013–14.
Enhancing agricultural education
We reached agreement with AgriFood Skills Australia to deliver a programme for Australian schools to enhance the teaching and learning of agriculture and sustainable land management. AgriFood Skills Australia delivered the programme through targeted presentations to teachers and students.
The programme has achieved target milestones for delivery of professional development programmes to teachers, and for in-school presentations to students.
Establishing Australian gene banks
We continued to facilitate the consolidation of grains and pastures genetic resources into national centres, fulfilling a 2006 Standing Council on Primary Industries decision. The Australian Grains Genebank officially opened in March 2014.
We also worked with South Australian Research and Development Institute and multiple research and development corporations to reach agreement on the formation of the Australian Pastures Genebank, which is expected to begin operations in 2014–15.
Live animal exports
Expanding market access for livestock exports
In January 2014, Australia and Vietnam agreed on a health protocol for the export of buffalo to Vietnam. The first shipment took place in February 2014.
In February and March 2014, the minister announced the reopening of the livestock export trade to Bahrain and Egypt. Sheep had not been exported to Bahrain since mid-2012, and sheep and cattle had not been exported to Egypt since 2006 and mid-2012, respectively.
The Egyptian market reopened under Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements. Egypt was the last existing livestock export market to be brought under ESCAS.
In June 2014, the minister announced the opening of a new market through the agreement of animal health protocols for the livestock export trade with Iran. Australian livestock exports to Iran have not occurred for more than 40 years. Iran is expected to be a market for sheep, cattle and goats and is a new opportunity for Australian producers.
These markets were opened as the result of collaboration between the department and the livestock export industry, and close engagement with our trading partners. The reopened markets will benefit Australian producers and livestock exporters.
Streamlining access to livestock markets
In February 2014, the minister announced a revised policy on the use of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in the livestock export trade. This removed the requirement for MoUs to be negotiated with livestock importing countries prior to the commencement of trade. MoUs that had already been concluded with importing countries were retained as an important engagement tool on the livestock export trade.
Trading partners welcomed the implementation of this policy, as it expedites access to high-quality Australian livestock and streamlines access for Australian industry to new export markets.
Reforming agricultural and veterinary chemicals regulation
The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment (Removing Re-approval and Re-registration) Bill 2014 was introduced into Parliament in March 2014. The Bill proposes amendments to improve the efficiency of APVMA operations and to reduce red tape for holders of approvals and registrations.
This legislation addresses the Government's commitment to remove re-registration and work with industry to implement further improvements through legislation and administrative change. Stakeholders were closely engaged in the development of the Bill and on further reforms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agvet chemicals regulation.
Supporting research and development
Reforming research and development corporations
Amendments to 12 separate pieces of legislation governing rural research and development corporations came into effect in December 2013. The amendments improve the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the statutory bodies, cut red tape and remove obsolete provisions from legislation. We developed the amendments following two years of extensive consultation.
Supporting sugar industry reforms
Sugar Research Australia (SRA), the industry-owned sugar research organisation, entered into a statutory funding agreement in August 2013 that formally declared it as the industry services body for the Australian sugar industry. The department worked closely with SRA to ensure the development of the governance arrangements appropriate for an organisation receiving industry levies and matching government payments.
In line with the reforms, the Sugar Research and Development Corporation closed on 30 September 2013.
Backing cotton industry innovation
As a member of the Cotton Innovation Network, the department took an active role in the development of the network's five key research priorities. The network is increasing its members' understanding about what each organisation contributes to overall cotton research, development and extension.
Australia continues to play a strong leadership role in developing international science-based food standards through the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its subsidiary bodies. We provided input into the work of Codex committees dealing with inspection and certification, food additives and contaminants, residues of veterinary drugs and pesticides, food hygiene, food labelling, food nutrition and food for special dietary uses as well as various commodity committees (fish and fishery products, fruits and vegetables and fats and oils).
The department made significant contributions to Codex work on developing proposed draft guidelines for Control of Specific Zoonotic Parasites in Meat: Trichinella spiralis and Cysticercus bovis. This provides a consistent and transparent technical base for establishing national control measures, and supports judgement of equivalence by importing countries where such measures differ from their own.
Risk-based guidance from Codex for these biological hazards is needed globally. These parasites exist at some level in most countries, and most countries impose traditional control measures. The proposed work could lead to further risk-based evaluation of other priority meat-borne hazards that cause trade problems.
International Sugar Organisation
The department participated in the 44th and 45th meetings of the International Sugar Council. The 44th meeting, which elected a new Executive Director for the International Sugar Organization (ISO), was held in conjunction with the 22nd ISO forum. The 45th meeting approved changes in the ISO's statistical rules.
International Cotton Advisory Committee
A department officer chaired the standing committee of the International Cotton Advisory Committee. We also attended the 77th International Cotton Advisory Committee in Colombia in September 2013, which focused on emerging challenges facing the cotton value chain.
Scientific and economic research
ABARES conducted surveys to collect information on the financial, physical, environmental and socioeconomic characteristics of farms and the management practices of producers. ABARES used the data collected to inform policy advice, including input to the development of the Farm Household Allowance, the Drought Concessional Loans Scheme and the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme (see Programmes 1.11 and 1.12).
ABARES generated key reports on the financial performance of a range of broadacre industries, the dairy industry, vegetable growing farms, irrigation farms in the Murray Darling Basin and wine grape growers. It used the survey data to produce articles on topical issues, including:
- the level and distribution of debt among farms
- characteristics of high performing farms
- the effect of the Queensland drought on farm financial performance
- changes in irrigation technologies and water use on farms in the Murray-Darling basin.
ABARES also released updated online database information and regional profiles with its key industry reports. More information is available on the ABARES website.
Since the implementation of the ESCAS framework in July 2011, more than 6.5 million Australian animals have been exported to 17 countries. As the regulator of livestock exports, the department has investigated a number of claims from third parties of animal welfare and regulatory breaches. During 2013–14, there were 601 livestock export consignments. The department received 21 reports of animal welfare and regulatory breaches (including seven self-reports by exporters).
Some investigations have resulted in the department removing facilities from approved supply chains, requiring exporters to provide further information about proposed exports and/or issuing directions to be complied with by export licence holders.
In some cases, we also applied additional conditions to export approvals, such as requirements for supply chain officers to be in place to monitor and report on the movement of livestock through approved supply chains, further reconciliation requirements to account for animals in supply chains, training to improve animal handling practices and additional independent auditing of supply chains.
Reports are made publicly available on the department's website.
Rural research and development
Rural research, development and extension policy operates in a complex system that links funders, providers and end-users. The implementation of policy changes to the national rural research and development system will continue over coming years.
We are advancing improvements to the system with the rural research and development corporations and through the National Primary Industries Research Development and Extension Framework. The framework is being jointly implemented by the Commonwealth, state and Northern Territory governments, rural research and development corporations, the CSIRO and universities to encourage greater collaboration and promote continuous improvement in the investment of research and development resources nationally.
The framework was agreed through a statement of intent signed by all parties in 2009, and consists of 22 sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies for research, development and extension. In 2013–14, primary industries ministers endorsed the strategies for soils, plant biosecurity, animal biosecurity, and food and nutrition.
The department's target for this key performance indicator was 'partially met' in 2013–14.