Biosecurity, international trade and supply chain transparency are some of the priorities of the Agriculture White Paper.
The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper pledged $200 million funding increase for biosecurity across Australia to improve biosecurity surveillance and analysis nationally, including in northern Australia.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said “this $200 million over four years will improve our ability to understand, detect and respond to pests and diseases that could hurt our farmers, rural communities, agricultural productivity and economy.”
"It will build intelligence and scientific expertise and put more boots on the ground. It will also support development in the north and ensure the northern barrier remains intact.
The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper also provides an additional $12.4 million over four years to modernise Australia's traceability systems. This will provide even greater assurance that the agricultural goods we send to trading partners can be traced quickly to the point of origin so the source of any disease or residue contamination can be effectively managed.
The investment in biosecurity is part of a plan to help farmers’ access premium markets.
The government has also pledged $30.8 million to break down technical barriers to trade and appointing five new Agriculture Counsellors.
There will be an additional $12.4 million to modernise Australia’s food export traceability systems to further enhance our food safety credentials.
Supply chain transparency
The White Paper commits $11.4 million to establish an ACCC Commissioner dedicated to agriculture as well as supporting capability at the ACCC concerned with agriculture supply chain issues.
"Many stakeholders were concerned with the lack of transparency in supply chains and the anti-competitive distortions that can result—all too often to the detriment of our farmers," Joyce said.
"The new Commissioner, combined with the new dedicated agricultural-focus of the ACCC, will give the ACCC additional agricultural skills and knowledge to address the concerns of farmers.
"These new resources will enable ACCC staff to attend the saleyards or visit farmers to see the market in action and gather necessary evidence.
The government has also put forward $13.8 million towards educating farmers and providing them with materials on alternative business models like cooperatives and collective bargaining.
"Knowledge is power. A strong supply chain advocate, proactive ACCC investigations and information on alternative business structures will go a long way to reducing farmers' vulnerability to the market power that can be wielded by large processors or retail chains.
"These measures, combined with work this government already has in train through our forthcoming response to the Competition Policy Review; the current review of the Horticulture Code of Conduct; and the establishment of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, show we are serious about ensuring our farmers get a fair deal for their efforts.
The White Paper announced it will be reducing red tape from the economy by $1 billion a year.
$20.4 million has been allocated to further streamline agricultural and veterinary chemicals approvals. Farmers will get access to new farm chemicals more quickly, reducing the cost of doing business.
The Australian Government also reiterated its commitment to improve country of origin labelling.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said considerable public interest in the issue made it clear that consumers wanted to know whether the products they were buying were sourced locally or from overseas.
The Australian Government is currently consulting with industry and the community about the best way forward before engaging with state and territory governments.
The White Paper was informed by stakeholder consultation—more than 1000 submissions were received and the government talked face-to-face with more than 1100 people across the country in developing this document. The White Paper is available at agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.