Government promises to act on farm red tape

The Government has today responded to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into the Regulation of Australian Agriculture – promising to reduce the red tape burden on farmers.

The response was almost two years in the making, but the end result contains clear wins for farmers and specifically, the endorsement of many of the National Farmers’ Federation’s (NFF’s) key asks in its submission to the Inquiry.

The NFF says a commitment by government to ease the red tape burden constraining the farm sector is a welcome start to the new year.

“The Government has listened to the across-the-board red tape frustrations of agriculture and committed to recommendations of the Commission in areas such as such natural resource management, animal welfare, GM technology and the regulation of heavy vehicles,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.

Cutting agriculture’s regulatory burden is a key priority in NFF’s Roadmap to see agriculture increase its farm gate output from $63 billion in 2016-2017 to $100 billion by 2030.

Launching the Government’s response today, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Government was cutting unnecessary red tape for farmers.

“We want to reduce red tape so farm businesses can create wealth and jobs in our regional communities,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The report covers what all governments can do to cut red tape and we have already saved more than $125 million in red tape across agriculture.

“There are more opportunities to cut red tape in land use, water, animal welfare, agricultural and veterinary chemicals, biosecurity, transport, labour, competition and exports.

The Government has embraced the need to fairer environmental laws which reward farmers’ efforts to care for the environment.

“We welcome the response to Recommendation 3.3 which identifies the opportunity for a smart and sustainable interaction between agriculture and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act,” NFF President Fiona Simson said today.

The NFF sees the on-foot review of the EPBC Act as a watershed moment for the intersection of agriculture and environment regulation and eagerly await what is, the imminent release of this report.

“The NFF continues to pursue a framework for farmers to be rewarded for the management of their biophysical assets,” Ms Simson said.

“The NFF 2030 Roadmap envisages that by 2030 five per cent of a farm business’ income should come from ‘ecosystem services’. We need to start building a model for this now.”

Importantly, the Government has lent its support to a risk-based approach to reducing the regulatory burden for farmers who need to move oversized agricultural machinery on public roads.

However, Ms Simson said the NFF remained anxious to see a finalised National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Notice.

“Such a notice would determine whether the Government’s support of Recommendation 9.3 will deliver less onerous road access for large agricultural vehicles in practice and not just on paper.”

You can read a full copy of the Productivity Commission’s report, plus the Government’s response here.



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