Programme 1.10: Agricultural resources
This programme’s objectives in 2014–15 were to:
- foster and enable productive, profitable, internationally competitive and sustainable Australian primary industries, including food and wine industries
- support and streamline the National Registration Scheme for Agricultural and Veterinary (agvet) Chemicals
- support rural research, development and extension (RD&E), including through research and development corporations.
This is a wide-ranging programme that encompasses key policy areas for our portfolio industries. We provide policy advice and engage stakeholders on topics including agricultural productivity, food standards, and research and development.
We also work with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to ensure the continued protection of human health and the environment.
More information is available on the department's website.
|Key performance indicator||2014–15 target||Performance|
|Effective policies, programmes and regulations that contribute to enhanced productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability||Accurate and timely advice provided||Met||Met||Met|
|Engage with domestic and international stakeholders on industry issues||5 meetings||Met||Met||Met|
|Effective and timely contribution to Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code||By due date, in consultation with industry a||Met||–||–|
|Timely delivery of allocated funding under the Rural Research and Development for Profit programme||100% a||Met||–||–|
|Timely development and implementation of the strategy and the associated actions for research and development||Implement actions||Partially met||Partially met||Partially met|
|Effective engagement with states and territories to deliver productivity work plan||Deliver productivity work plan||Partially met||Partially met||Partially met|
|Implement the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy||Projects finalised||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 World Organisation for Animal Health animal welfare standards||Projects finalised c||N/A||Met||Met|
|Work with jurisdictions on the development of priority national animal welfare standards||Projects finalised||Met||Met||Met|
|Timely delivery of allocated funding under the minor use agvet chemical programme||100% a||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||Met||Partially met|
|Progress reforms to the national agvet chemicals system in partnership with the states and territories||Implement reforms||Met||Met||Partially met|
|All levy funds paid to recipient bodies||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 each||Met||Met||Met|
|Underpinning research, advice, forecast, projects, products and data services meet stakeholder expectations and are delivered within agreed timelines||85% b||Met||Met||Met|
a New performance indicator. b Client satisfaction as measured by an annual survey of ABARES clients. c Projects under this initiative were finalised by 30 June 2014 and this indicator was not applicable in 2014–15.
We supported the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in developing the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. The green paper was released in 2014–15, outlining a range of new proposals and policy suggestions across 25 themes.
Agencies, groups and individuals lodged more than 1000 public submissions during the white paper process and meetings were held with more than 1100 stakeholders.
The white paper was released in July 2015.
The Australian Government recognises consumers want clear and accurate labelling to help them identify and buy food grown and processed in Australia. We worked with the Department of Industry and Science and other agencies to identify ways to improve the country-of-origin food labelling framework.
We consulted consumers, industry and other stakeholders to determine a system to best meet the needs of consumers without being unduly burdensome on industry. The government will work with other jurisdictions to change the framework as required under intergovernmental agreements on food regulation and consumer law.
Supporting research and development
Delivering the Rural Research and Development for Profit programme
We successfully implemented round 1 of the Rural Research and Development for Profit programme. The 2014–15 Budget provided an additional $100 million over four years for the programme.
We approved 12 projects for a total of $26.7 million in funding over four years. These projects are expected to generate improved knowledge, technologies, products and processes to help primary producers increase their profitability and productivity.
The projects will also strengthen extension pathways and collaboration between research institutions for long-term benefit.
Strengthening the governance of rural research and development corporations
We negotiated statutory funding agreements for 2015–2019 with a number of statutory and industry-owned research and development corporations, following amendments to the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989 and the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Act 2013. These agreements ensure consistency in the government’s relationship with all rural research and development bodies.
We worked with the 15 statutory and industry-owned research and development corporations to help them meet their statutory and contractual obligations in 2014–15.
International Sugar Organization
We attended International Sugar Organization Administrative Committee and governing council meetings in July and November 2014. We provided support and policy advice for the Australian delegates. The meetings established a working group to consider membership structures.
International Cotton Advisory Committee
We attended the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) plenary in Greece in November 2014, which focused on strengthening the cotton value chain. In 2014–15, a departmental officer chaired the ICAC standing committee.
Cotton Innovation Network
We reviewed the Cotton Innovation Network’s five key research priorities. The network continues work to ensure its research priorities are appropriately targeted and to increase members’ understanding of each organisation’s contribution to the cotton RD&E effort.
Reforming agvet chemicals
Cutting red tape
We worked in consultation with the APVMA to streamline processes for simple variations to chemical products such as changes to a product name, the removal of an approved use, or changes to the address of the registration holder. The changes built on legislation to repeal the re-approval and re-registration scheme for agricultural and veterinary active constituents and chemical products.
The changes commenced on 1 January 2015, reducing the regulatory burden on chemical registrants and providing greater certainty in regulatory timelines and processes. The reforms will allow the APVMA to focus more resources on areas of higher risk.
Animal feed reforms
We worked with stakeholders and the APVMA to implement regulatory reform for certain animal feeds from March 2015. This delivered an estimated annual reduction of $7.8 million for the stock food and pet food industry.
The affected feeds had been considered veterinary chemical products, which meant they required APVMA assessment before being supplied. This incurred significant costs for applicants to prepare supporting data but did not deliver commensurate improvements in safety.
The new registration requirements reflect the risks associated with ingredients and intended use patterns. Any feed that meets the criteria has been excluded from the agvet chemical requirements.
The changes recognise stock food and pet food products have a well-established and manageable risk profile. The new requirements are consistent with arrangements in comparable international jurisdictions.
We provided funding for two measures under the government’s initiative for improved access to safe and effective agvet chemicals.
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation received funding to establish a collaborative forum. Stakeholders can use the forum to share priorities for agvet chemical use to identify opportunities to pool resources and informing chemical companies about potential markets. It also will assist communication and consultation between the department and stakeholders on other elements of the initiative.
The APVMA received funding to establish an official Australian list of crop groupings. The list will provide certainty for registrants or permit applicants that want to extrapolate data generated from crops to apply to a group of crops. This means little or no additional data will be needed.
Supporting animal welfare
We continued to support the implementation of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy by administering grant funding for domestic and international animal welfare projects.
We also worked through the Animal Welfare Task Group to support the development of Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines for cattle and sheep, saleyards and depots, and exhibited animals.
Scientific and economic research
Opportunities in Northern Australia
ABARES collaborated with the CSIRO on a study of medium and long-term opportunities for irrigated agricultural production in northern Australia. The study identified infrastructure investment and value chain needs to capitalise on existing and future market opportunities.
It concluded that securing irrigation water does not necessarily guarantee positive financial returns given supply chain constraints in some locations. Developing new markets is critical to success, as is investment in processing facilities and supporting infrastructure in most regions.
The Northern Australia food and fibre supply chains study is available on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website.
ABARES continued to release its quarterly publications Agricultural commodities and Australian crop report. Agricultural commodities provides robust forecasts and market analysis of major Australian agricultural commodities.
The Australian crop report provides detailed forecasts of Australia’s key winter and summer crops on a state and national basis. The data and information in these publications informed decision making by government and primary producers.
In March 2015, more than 700 delegates attended the Outlook 2015 Conference to hear from 75 speakers and chairs addressing the theme The business of agriculture: producing for profit. The conference included speakers from the World Bank, Rabobank The Netherlands, Geoff Raby & Associates and the United States Department of Agriculture, sharing their global perspectives. The conference received strong media coverage and sessions were later shared on YouTube.
ABARES Regional Outlook Conferences are an essential part of delivering commodity forecasts and research results directly to regional communities. Each conference programme is tailored to include locally relevant issues.
In 2014–15, conferences were held in Katherine, Northern Territory, Goondiwindi, Queensland, Albany, Western Australia, Wodonga, Victoria, Armidale, New South Wales, Devonport, Tasmania, and Strathalbyn, South Australia. In total, more than 700 people took part in the regional conferences.
Science and Innovation Awards
Coordinated by ABARES on behalf of the department, the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry provides grants for innovative projects that will benefit our portfolio industries. The number of applications increased for the 2015 round, with a competitive field of applicants across 11 award categories.
All award recipients have commenced their research projects, which include oyster research, wild dog alert systems, genome sequencing in the avocado plant and identifying herbicide resistance in significant agricultural weeds. Planning for the 2016 round is under way with the continued support of the award partners, the research and development corporations and industry associations.
More information is available on the department's website.
Diversity in Australia’s agricultural, fishing and forestry workforce
ABARES released information sheets on the participation of women, young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in portfolio industries. The sheets provide statistics and information on trends in employment participation and workforce demographics.
The agricultural, fisheries and forestry workforce includes people of varying ages, genders and cultural backgrounds who contribute significantly to these primary industries. As well as being an important source of labour, these diverse groups have been fundamental to the sustainability, competiveness and productivity of primary industries in Australia over many years.
The information sheets are available on the department's website.
Rural research and development strategy
The National Primary Industries RD&E Framework is a joint venture between the Australian, state and Northern Territory governments, rural research and development corporations, the CSIRO, and universities. The framework will support increased coordination among the different entities involved in RD&E.
Establishing the framework is a long-term task and work continues on implementing all actions in the strategy. The department’s target for this key performance indicator was ‘partially met’ in 2014–15.
Agricultural productivity work plan
During the year, projects by Australian, state and territory governments continued to deliver the agricultural productivity work plan.
The department’s target for this key performance indicator was ‘partially met’ in 2014–15.