Impact Publications : Aircargo_238
AirCArgo AsiA-PACifiC • AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2015 • Page 15 New approach to agriculture has exports - and farmers’ well-being - firmly in mind THE GOVERnMEnT’s agricultural competitiveness white paper – a heavily researched and consulted statement of strategy that will have a significant long- term impact on exports – has much to commend it. The white paper also is something of a triumph for Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce, one of Australia’s most pro-active agricultural ministers with a marked understanding of the need for good transport, growing export markets and profit margins as well as a fair deal for producers and total transparency in the supply chain. That focus comes from his farming background and accountancy training – before being elected, he ran an ac- counting business with strong ag-sector links. The white paper sees agricultural as a core component of a strong econo- my. As pm Tony Abbott and Joyce said: “We’re determined to make the sector even more competitive and to deliv- er practical actions that will keep our farmers and farming families profitable and resilient. “We are lowering tax, cutting red and green tape, building infrastructure, encouraging trade, developing northern Australia, and supporting business to innovate and create jobs.” Opening new export markets and boosting sustainable access to them (as well as to existing markets) is one of the paper’s key goals. As well as firming up free trade agreements and adding more – difficul- ties with the Trans-Pacific Partnership notwithstanding – the government has committed itself to investing A$200 mil- lion in improving biosecurity surveillance and analysis, A$30.8 million to break down technical barriers to trade and ap- pointing five new agriculture counsellors and A$12.4 million to modernise Austral- ia’s food export traceability systems, all of which will enhance global food safety credentials. Other innovations include spending A$11.4 million to boost ACCC’s engage- ment with agriculture, part of this going to fund a new commissioner who is expert in agriculture. A$13.8 million has been allocated to a two-year pilot program to provide knowledge and materials on co-opera- tives, collective bargaining and innova- tive business models. This is intended to help farmers establish alternative busi- nesses – co-operatives included - and to manage contract negotiations. The ACCC move focuses on supply chain transparency and is based large- ly on feedback from the consultative phase. “Many stakeholders were concerned with the lack of transparency in supply chains and the anti-competitive distor- tions that can result, all too often to the detriment of our farmers,” explained Joyce. “The new commissioner, combined with the new, agriculture 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.” On the web: agwhitepaper.agriculture. gov.au “Many stakeholders were concerned with the lack of transparency in supply chains and the anti-competitive distortions that can result,” explains Barnaby Joyce.