Improved access to agricultural and veterinary chemicals program

The Australian Government has committed $25.7 million over eleven years (2014-2025 ) to help farmers gain improved access to safe and effective agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals, and assist them in producing food for Australia and the world.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is working closely with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), grower groups, rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) and the chemical industry to deliver this commitment.

The program has a range of activities:

  • supporting collaboration between growers, producers and the chemical industry on the access needs of Australian agriculture
  • establishing an official Australian crop grouping list and associated APVMA guidelines (released by the APVMA on 11 January 2019, accessible at Representative crops and extrapolation principles for risk assessment and data waivers)
  • migrating some uses authorised under APVMA-issued permits to product labels
  • an assistance grants program to help fund the generation of sufficient data to support applications to the APVMA
  • improving the prioritisation of grants to the needs of Australian agriculture.

In addition to the work taking place under the new funding, the government is also committed to reforming agvet chemicals regulation to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the system and increase access to chemicals.

The department has progressed a number of initiatives with the new funding to improve access to agvet chemicals, as listed below.

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Priority forum

From 2018, the department has hosted a collaborative forum each year to develop a priority list of industry-nominated agvet chemical needs to inform the Assistance Grants – Access to Industry Priority Uses of Agvet Chemicals program  . The collaborative forum expanded the role of participants to produce a list more closely aligned with farmers’ agvet chemical needs. Participants include RDCs, the National Farmers’ Federation, Animal Health Australia, Plant Health Australia and the Australian federal and state and territory governments. The forum is also observed by the APVMA, Animal Medicines Australia, CropLife Australia, Veterinary Manufacturers and Distributors Association and international minor use experts ).

Industry collaborative forum

The department provided a grant of $218 182 (GST not applicable) to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC, now Agrifutures Australia) to establish a self-sustaining collaborative forum of growers, research and development corporations (RDCs) and chemical industry. The forum’s goals were to enable sharing priorities and fostering collaboration.

Crop grouping

The department has provided a grant of $130 000 (GST not applicable) to the APVMA to establish an official Australian list of crop groupings and develop associated guidelines.

Establishing an official crop grouping list will reduce regulatory costs for producers to gain access to more uses of agricultural chemicals. Crop grouping will maximise the use of data generated in other crops through extrapolation to a group of crops, with little or no additional data needed. In practice, where registration/permit has been gained for representative crops, automatic extension or approval would be allowed to all other crops within the group (and possibly across groups) without the need for additional data or review.

More information is available through the APVMA website.

Migrating permits to labels

The department has provided a grant of $240 000 (GST not applicable) to the APVMA to examine all permits currently issued to peak industry bodies (involving uses in crops and livestock species) and determine suitable candidates for migration from APVMA permit to product label (registration), and to then liaise with the holders of registration to migrate permit uses to labels of registered products.

The duration for a permit granted by the APVMA can vary from one season to up to 10 years. As permits have a limited duration, permit holders must periodically submit applications to the APVMA to renew permits. This may or may not require submission of new data. This renewal activity can consume a significant amount of resources from stakeholders’ existing access to chemicals programs, as well as the APVMA, as it has to assess these renewal applications. Migrating uses on permits to product labels eliminates the need for some existing permits and provides widest access to a use (through listing on the label of the product).

For more information on this project, please contact the APVMA.

Assistance grants

The department developed the Assistance Grants – Access to Industry Priority Uses of Agvet Chemicals program to generate sufficient data to support applications to the APVMA for agvet chemical uses identified as a priority by the collaborative forum.

The number and value of grants awarded in each round is recorded below:

  2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
Grants awarded 49 51 26 23 22 21
Total grants value
($ million)
1.61 2.50 1.76 2.00 2.00 2.00

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The agvet chemical access issue

Access to safe and effective agvet chemicals is important to Australian agricultural and livestock industries, the community and the environment.

Farmers use agvet chemicals to help protect crops and animals from pests and diseases, and treat infections when they occur.

However, Australian farmers sometimes have difficulties getting access to the particular uses of an agvet chemical that are available to overseas competitors.

The small size of the Australian market can make the costs involved with registering an agvet chemical for its use in Australia uncommercial. This is particularly the case for treating pests and diseases in specialty crops and livestock species. Larger industries face a similar problem when managing uncommon or emerging pests and diseases. These chemical access issues are often referred to as the ‘minor use’ issue.

About the improved access to agvet chemicals program

The program will improve access to agvet chemicals and increase the number of uses available to producers. To successfully deliver enduring improvements to access to agvet chemicals the program will:

  • Improve the ability of producers to effectively share their needs and priorities for uses of agvet chemicals between themselves, grower groups, chemical companies and government.
  • Improve producers’ access to a broader range of Australian approved uses for those agvet chemicals already in the Australian market.
  • Improve the number of approved uses that chemical companies choose to bring to the Australian market when introducing a new agvet chemical to Australia.

The department continues to consult with stakeholders on other measures that could deliver these improvements.

About the funding

The government currently contributes funding to the RDCs to:

  • generate data to support applications for APVMA minor use permits.

The government also contributes to the APVMA’s Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals M inor U se program (~$135 000 annually).

An initial $8 million was announced in the 2014-15 budget under the improved access program.  A further $6.3 million, $2.4 million and $9 million were committed in the 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2021-22 budgets respectively to continue the program through to 2024-25.

Privacy Statement, Confidentiality and Intellectual Property

Privacy Statement

All personal information handled by the department is protected in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988. Personal information means information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable.

The collection of personal information by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in relation to views submitted by stakeholders to the department is for the purposes of exploring options to deliver improved access to agvet chemicals and related purposes.

Personal information may be disclosed to other Australian government agencies, persons or organisations where necessary for the above purposes, provided the disclosure is consistent with relevant laws, in particular the Privacy Act 1988. Your personal information will be used and stored in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles.

See our Privacy Policy to learn more about accessing or correcting personal information or making a complaint. Alternatively, telephone the department on +61 2 6272 3933.

Confidentiality

All content contained in submissions may be published on the department’s website or otherwise made public, unless you specifically state you want all or part of your submission to be treated as confidential information. Automatically generated confidentiality statements are not accepted by the department, and a claim for confidentiality must be justified, and any such material provided as a separate attachment, marked ‘Confidential’. Material marked ‘Confidential’ will not be published on the department’s website.

Notwithstanding the above, no breach of confidence will occur if the department shares part or all of your submission with a third party referred to under the heading ‘Privacy’ above in seeking external advice or information in response to a submission.

Intellectual property

Responsibility for compliance with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in submissions rests with the submission author(s), not with the department. In lodging your submission, you warrant that you have not knowingly infringed any third party IPR. By lodging a submission, you grant to the Commonwealth of Australia a permanent, irrevocable, royalty-free, world-wide, non-exclusive licence, (that is, a legal permission, including a right of sub-licence) to use, copy, reproduce, adapt, communicate and exploit all or any of the material contained in your submission.

For more information, please visit the department’s Privacy Policy.

Our Privacy Policy also contains information about how you can seek access or correction to your personal information. It also contains details about how you can complain about a breach of the Privacy Act by us, and how we will deal with such a complaint.

Last reviewed: 17 May 2021
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