MOVES by the federal government to fund projects that enhance trade and market access opportunities for Australian farmers, have been welcomed by Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Mr Joyce says the Coalition had invested $2.1 million into the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) program for 16 projects.
He said the ATMAC program was launched just 11 months ago and was a key part of the Coalition’s $30.8m commitment in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to expand access premium markets and, in turn, deliver better farm-gate returns.
“It provides funding for projects that help to open, improve and maintain access to markets for Australian agricultural products by building stronger relationships with trading partners, neighbouring countries and international organisations,” he said.
“Meat and Livestock Australia were granted funding for a project to deliver three workshops in China with key Chinese importers, distributors and retailers.
“The workshops will promote trade in Australian chilled meat and expand access, to a market worth $1.5 billion in 2015-16 for exports of meat and live animals.”
Australian Food and Grocery Council Economics and Sustainability Director Tanya Barden said the project helped Australian agri-food exporters understand different pathways into the Chinese market, like free-trade zones, e-commerce and traditional routes.
She said the AFGC would also develop materials to deliver a consistent and factual explanation of Australia’s food safety and export regulatory systems to international audiences which would reinforce Australia’s reputation as a reliable food producer.
“It will also increase understanding and trust of Australia’s systems, to reduce technical barriers to markets,” she said.
A statement from Mr Joyce said the ATMAC program was also supporting a project to reduce compliance costs for the export of fresh Australian horticultural products, like citrus, table grapes and stone fruit, to capitalise on the Asian market, worth $1.7b to Australia’s horticultural industry in 2015-16.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries had received a grant for its research into Australian finger limes.
“Currently, fresh Australian finger limes cannot be exported to markets such as Japan due to concerns over fruit fly,” he said.
“Scientific evidence suggests that finger limes are not a fruit fly host and the project aims to support this claim.
“These projects are helping Australian exporters realise the opportunities presented by trade deals and market access gains secured by the Coalition government.
“I would encourage more interested parties to apply for this funding.”
The ATMAC program is open for applications in 2017 and overall is providing $3.1m in grants until June 30, 2019.
In the agriculture portfolio since January 2016, over 30 key market access gains or restorations of markets have been achieved, and more than 19 key market access improvements or actions to maintain market access, Mr Joyce’s statement said.