Statistics released yesterday by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) reveal the worst performance in the regulator's history - validating concerns that the move to Armidale will cost the industry dearly.
The latest release of performance statistics show the regulator completing only 30 per cent of work within statutory time-frames for crop protection registrations – down from 82 per cent from the September quarter last year.
Chief Executive Officer of CropLife Australia, Matthew Cossey, said excessive loss of key specialist staff, due to the Government’s relocation decision, means that farmers are missing out on a significant number of important agricultural products.
“This relocation is crippling the plant science industry in Australia but the real victims will be Australia’s hard-working farmers.
“Conservative estimates calculated by EY in the ‘Cost benefit and risk analysis of the potential relocation of the APVMA’ report indicate the impact of a one year delay in the approval of just one new agricultural chemical product will cost broad-acre crop farmers between $64m and $193m per annum.
"Considering many of the delayed applications are associated with crop protection products that have short annual application windows, these delays effectively equate to an entire farming season,” Mr Cossey said.
National Farmers' Federation President Fiona Simson said fears the controversial relocation would prove harmful seemed to be coming true.
“The NFF has longed expressed reservations about the relocation of the APVMA to Armidale and the potential for negative impacts on its ongoing services, performance and business,” Ms Simson said.
“Australian farmers rely on being internationally competitive through efficient operating systems and the production of pest- and disease-free produce.
“Without cost-effective chemical controls, farmers’ ability to compete on the world stage is comprised – a serious concern for an industry that exports three-quarters of what it produces.”
The NFF is one of many industry bodies which have consistently expressed concerns about the impact of relocation.
“The Government has repeatedly provided assurances that the relocation process represented an opportunity for the APVMA to start fresh and become a ‘next generation’ regulator serving the agricultural sector.
“Yesterday’s results unfortunately confirm our concerns that the APVMA’s operations, as a result of its relocation, have suffered.
“It is now clear that more needs to be done to ensure performance does not continue to deteriorate, including further support for the APVMA during the transition process," Ms Simson concluded.