Farmgate focus for Ag White Paper

06 Feb, 2014 03:00 AM
Agricultural policy can be the architecture for success or the cursed prelude to failure

FEDERAL Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has released the issues document underpinning his planned Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper today and is urging all industry stakeholders to express their views.

Mr Joyce has described the White Paper as a “seminal document” that he’ll present to federal cabinet later this year to help formulate agricultural policy for guiding the industry’s future.

“If your experience in agriculture is anything like mine, then you’re always looking for an opportunity to have your say,” Mr Joyce said in a statement.

“Whether you’re drenching sheep, mustering cattle or sitting on a tractor, you always had in the back of your mind what you would do to make the show work better – well this is your opportunity to do precisely that.”

The paper contains nine key issue points:

  • ensuring food security globally;
  • improving farm gate returns; enhancing access to finance;
  • increasing the sector’s competitiveness and its value chain;
  • enhancing agriculture’s contribution to rural communities;
  • improving the competitiveness of input costs;
  • reducing ineffective regulations; enhancing agricultural exports;
  • and assessing the effectiveness of incentives for investment and job creation.
  • The paper says it will also consider guidelines for drought preparedness and in-event drought measures as part of the government’s commitment to review the adequacy of current measures.

    But it won’t consider industry competitiveness issues associated with the fisheries and forestry sectors and won’t cover human nutritional health issues.

    Mr Joyce said stakeholders could have their say in a number of ways, with a taskforce visiting 25 towns and regional centres and the eight capital cities in coming months, to consult with industry leaders, farmers and those in sectors connected to the land like transport and banking.

    He said those who are interested in contributing to the process can also make an appointment to meet one-on-one with the taskforce while they’re on the road.

    Written submissions are also sought and these can be lodged via the website.

    “Now is your chance to think big,” he said.

    “Now is your chance to say what I would do for my nation if I was to make agriculture work better.”

    The White Paper was a key commitment within the Coalition’s agricultural policy at the last federal election which was headlined by a promise of an additional $100 million for Rural Research and Development Corporations.

    In the foreword to his issues paper, Mr Joyce said agricultural policy can be “the architecture for success or the cursed prelude to failure”.

    “Imagine there was no policy - no labour laws, biosecurity, environmental laws, public infrastructure - basically agriculture in a land without government,” he said.

    “We want people to think of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper as the blank slate and build the 21st century policies that bring a better return to the farmgate.

    “A better farmgate return quite naturally inspires an increase in production and reinvestment in the sector.

    “We cannot let the paper be just a profound motherhood statement.”

    Mr Joyce reiterated the Coalition's position that agriculture was one of five key pillars of the national economy and said the White Paper would ensure the sector “realises its full potential through innovation, productivity, investment and trade”.

    The issues paper says the Australian government provided assistance to the agriculture sector worth around $1.4 billion in 2011–12 comprising about $780 million in budget outlays, $520 million in tax concessions and $160 million in net tariff assistance, with about one-third of the assistance directed to sheep, cattle and grain farming.

    “Key challenges and opportunities for the sector include increasing competition from overseas suppliers; new production technologies and consumer attitudes to their application; advances in the digital-economy; increasing globalisation of supply chains; competition for prime agricultural land; and increasing frequency and intensity of adverse weather events,” it says.

    “Understanding current and future issues affecting the competitiveness of the agriculture sector will help individuals, industries and governments better respond to these opportunities and challenges.”

    Key facts in White Paper

  • In 2012–13, the farm sector’s gross value of production was almost $48 billion, and is forecast to grow to over $50 billion in 2013–14.
  • Looking beyond the farmgate, in 2011–12 food and beverage processing was worth $91 billion and food retailing $136 billion.
  • In 2012–13, farm exports were $38 billion. In that year, the agriculture sector employed 278,000 people with a further 225,000 people employed in food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing (accounting for around one quarter of all employment in Australian manufacturing).
  • In 2011–12 farmers managed around 53 per cent (405 million hectares) of Australia’s landmass, reflecting the importance of their stewardship in maintaining our natural resource base.
  • Page:
    Colin Bettles

    Colin Bettles

    is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
    Date: Newest first | Oldest first


    Regional Recruiters Australia
    6/02/2014 9:47:03 AM

    Another issue that needs is addressing is labour shortages - and reducing obstacles to the supply of labour.
    6/02/2014 12:23:10 PM

    Seminal document?!! What's happened to the Blueprint for Agriculture?
    6/02/2014 3:43:51 PM

    Geronimo. How do I put this diplomatically... let's just say I hope you pay a little more attention to your farm than you do to observing agricultural policy development. The White Paper is from the Federal Government (I emphasise Federal just in case you haven't picked up that we have state governments too. Hence our 'Federated' government, but that's a lesson for another day... I don't want to hurt your gentle brain). The Blueprint is the NFF's analysis of what policies would best serve Australian agriculture. As a lobby group, I imagine they would be delighted if it was adopted by govt.
    6/02/2014 4:16:00 PM

    Agriculture needs the three "tions". Education, innovation and perspiration. They need to be rewarded.
    7/02/2014 11:46:43 AM

    Duncs, the Blueprint was the INITIATIVE of the NFF. The Federal Government then co-funded and co-delivered on that initiative. It is not just "the NFF's analysis." The Federal Government is part owner of the results because it agreed to fund the analysis to help it develop policy. The Blueprint is also "from" the Federal Government because it paid for it to be done. NFF carried the task.
    28/02/2014 10:41:10 AM

    Extraordinary, that the issues paper for the coming Agricultural White Paper simply ignores climate. Head-in-sand denialists perhaps won't find this surprising, but rational farmers will be worried that minister Joyce seems to think that business as usual, tweaked, will suffice. It's not all gloom, but it will need intelligent planning and application. For example, a good over-view, see a dairy industry paper: uments/029.pdf


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    I've said this before but if farmers are not happy with their CBH Board they should put up or
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    Hey Jock, costs of execution on the East are now at or below the CBH system. You now officially