Improved agricultural export legislation

Budget 2021-22

The 2021-22 Budget has now been released, with measures related to the information on this page.

Find out more at

Australia’s new export legislation has commenced.

Please read the information and related documents on this page to learn about:

  • Australia's new agricultural export legislation
  • how you can provide your feedback to the department's post-commencement review of the development and roll out of the legislation.

Our website will be updated for the new legislation and references to the previous legislation will be updated in due course.

Agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports are an economic powerhouse for Australia. Strengthening the competitiveness and productivity of Australia's agriculture sector is a key commitment of the Morrison McCormack Government.

Improved legal framework

Australia’s new legal framework for agricultural exports commenced on Sunday 28 March 2021 at 3 am. The Australian Government introduced the new export legislation as part of a wider initiative to strengthen Australia’s agricultural exports and market access. This initiative will make the laws more relevant, responsive and efficient, provide the same level of regulatory oversight, remove duplication, and ensure consistency across the commodities where possible. This will allow for a streamlined approach to regulating different prescribed commodities and will ensure the framework is more accessible for exporters.

The new export legislation incudes:

  • The Export Control Act 2020 (the Act) sets out the overarching legal framework for the regulation of exported goods, including food and agricultural products, from Australia. It enables the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the Secretary) to make rules that detail the requirements and establish conditions for exporting certain goods from Australia. It has streamlined and consolidated the export requirements included in more than 20 Acts and 40 legislative instruments into one Act, making the requirements to export easier to understand and comply with.
  • The Export Control Rules 2021 (the Rules) are legislative instruments made by the Secretary under section 432 of the Act that set out the operational requirements that must be met to export specific goods from Australia (e.g., meat). These conditions ensure any importing country requirements are satisfied, and that the export conforms with requirements and industry standards and meets Australia’s international obligations.

    The Rules are based on the Orders and Regulations for commodities that were regulated under the Export Control Act 1982 and the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997. The Rules replaced the Orders and Regulations that were in effect until the new legislation commenced on 28 March 2021. As for the previous Orders and Regulations, the Rules are disallowable instruments that are subject to parliamentary checks and balances.
  • The Export Control (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2020 (the C&T Act) is a piece of primary legislation that provides transitional provisions and makes consequential amendments to support the commencement of the Export Control Act 2020 and subordinate instruments.

    The C&T Act enables the transition to the new export legislation to be properly managed to ensure:
    • exports are appropriately regulated or controlled
    • access to international trading markets for Australian goods is maintained
    • Australia’s global trading reputation as a reliable source of safe food and high-quality goods is protected and not disrupted.

The key benefits of the new legislation include:

  • It will assist farmers, other primary producers and exporters by:
    • reducing duplication, being more relevant and efficient and making export regulation easier to understand and comply with
    • supporting the export of a broader range of agricultural exports. This will encourage farmers and prospective exporters to engage in international trade, particularly those involved in small, niche or emerging industries
    • providing for regulatory changes to be made much more quickly to support changes in importing country requirements
    • encouraging the uptake of innovation by farmers and exporters to meet regulatory requirements
    • including provisions for automated decision making, where approved by the Secretary, that are aimed at making regulatory processes more efficient and effective.
  • It will provide a higher level of deterrence, through a broader range of penalties and sanctions, to those who would seek to disregard our regulatory requirements and damage our export markets. It also supports more targeted regulatory action in instances where non-compliance occurs.
  • It maintains Australia’s commitment to meeting the importing country requirements of our trading partners and our international obligations, including those under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement).

The development of Australia’s agricultural export legislation was informed by a comprehensive review of the export of agricultural products through the Agricultural Export Regulation Review (the Review), and extensive consultations with our stakeholders including farmers, other primary producers, exporters and trading partners. The Review found most stakeholders accepted the current level of regulation and understood the need for it to be maintained to protect market access and Australia’s global trading reputation. However, it also recognised that there was scope for improvement, including increasing flexibility and opportunities for government-industry cooperation, reducing complexity and duplication, and strengthening compliance and enforcement arrangements.

The development of the Rules was subject to extensive public consultation between November 2018 and January 2021. The feedback received from our stakeholders has helped to ensure that the previous export-related requirements were streamlined and consolidated into an improved legal framework which is clear and fit for purpose – supporting growth and innovation, while maintaining the level of regulatory oversight trading partners expect.

Post-commencement review

You are invited to share your views with us on the processes used to develop and roll out the new agricultural export legislation. With the new legislation in effect for a little over a month, we are conducting a review to assist us to improve our future processes.

You can provide feedback to us by one, or both of the following:

  • Attending a face-to-face consultation session in your nearest capital city:
    City Date
    Hobart 2 June 2021
    Canberra 7 June 2021
    Perth 8 June 2021
    Adelaide 9 June 2021
    Sydney 16 June 2021
    Brisbane 17 June 2021
    Darwin 22 June 2021
    Melbourne 1 July 2021*

    *Please note - the Melbourne consultation session will be held on 1 July 2021 subject to applicable COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.

    Please email to register your interest in attending a session.

    • We will send you an invitation with details of the time and venue when arrangements have been finalised.
    • These sessions will be held subject to the COVID-19 restrictions in place in each state or territory.
  • Completing an online survey via the department's Have Your Say platform. Our survey, Australia's new agricultural export legislation – Post commencement review is open from now until 30 June 2021.

Legislation and information sheets

This page includes links to the Act, the Rules and the C&T Act, as well as information sheets that will assist your understanding of the new agricultural export legislation.

Export Control Act 2020

Export Control Rules 2021

Export Control (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2020

These three Orders were saved by section 55 of the Export Control (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2020. This enabled the Orders to continue as if the Orders were rules made by the Secretary under subsection 432(1) of the Act for the purposes of section 264 of that Act and does not prevent tariff rate quota rules from being amended or repealed after the commencement of this item. The Export Control Legislation Amendment (Tariff Rate Quotas) Rules 2021 amended the provisions in the Orders to refer to the relevant provisions in the Act and updated certain definitions to be consistent with those used in the Act.

Previous consultation

Details of our previous consultations with stakeholders, critical to shaping Australia’s new agricultural export legislation are available via these links:

Further information

For more information please email

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Last reviewed: 9 June 2021
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