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Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals

Agricultural Chemicals and Veterinary medicines can improve the productivity and sustainability of Australian agriculture. The NFF supports reform that facilitates access to state-of-the-art-chemicals.

Issue

The production and distribution of agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines (agvet chemicals) has changed dramatically in recent years, helping farmers to apply better chemicals in a more targeted manner. However, due to strict regulations around the registration of chemicals to the Australian market, many manufacturers refrain from registering those chemicals, necessitating Australian farmers to use outdated products.

New agvet chemicals could drastically improve the productivity and sustainability of Australian agriculture, making Australian produce more competitive on the world market. Consequently, it is necessary to reform the current regulation of agvet chemicals without compromising the excellent biosecurity standards of Australian agricultural goods. 

Background

Agvet chemicals have to be approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) which sets the conditions for the supply and use of agvet chemicals. Strict regulations are a necessity since the incorrect application of agvet chemicals can negatively impact on the health and safety of humans, animals and the environment. It is thus essential to manage chemical risk through a detailed examination of data.

The current regulation, however, does not make a distinction between different applications of agvet chemicals with different risks associated to their use. This, in turn, makes registration often unnecessarily costly. At the moment, the government examines a range of reforms and is in the process of consulting with industry groups about how to best meet industry’s needs. 

What the industry needs

To enable farmers to use the most productive and sustainable agvet chemicals, the NFF would suggest the following measures:

  • Employ a risk-based modular approach that differentiates the registration of agvet chemicals in line with their potential risk. 
  • Use overseas data to inform decision-making about agvet chemicals in Australia, ceasing the costly and unnecessary duplication of tests if they occur in directly comparable environments.
  • Facilitate the admission of minor-use chemicals that would otherwise be too costly to register. 
  • Introduce a modular-approach to trade assessment, requiring trade assessment only for chemicals used by agricultural industries that rely on export.

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