Agribusiness

Agriculture’s competitiveness gets the green paper treatment

Terry Sim, October 20, 2014

Australia’s sheep and wool producers have an opportunity to give their view on how existing laws and regulations might be changed to address market power imbalances after the release of the Federal Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper.

Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said getting fairer prices for farmers by strengthening competition laws and policies was raised as a big issue through consultations.

“As Agriculture Minister, I believe our farmers should be treated fairly and get the best farmgate return possible.

“I expect retailers to negotiate and contract with their suppliers in good faith and to pay a fair price.”

Mr Joyce said there are 25 policy themes in the green paper.

“We won’t be able to do everything, so we’re looking to identify what’s truly important and where we should focus our attention.

“We want feedback on the green paper especially to focus on the ideas that will help us increase competitiveness, increase farmgate profitability and contribute to the prosperity of our rural and regional communities,” he said.

“Everyone has the opportunity to have their say on the green paper. Submissions are open online until 12 December 2014.

“Now is the time to help shape Australian agriculture into a stronger, more profitable and more sustainable sector,” Mr Joyce said.

Key agriculture competitiveness questions listed in an issues paper with the green paper and to be formulated into a white paper include:

• How might existing laws and regulations be changed to address any market power imbalances in the agricultural supply chain, without limiting prospects for global-scale firms developing in Australia?

• How can the agriculture sector improve its competitiveness relative to other sectors in the economy?

• Which examples of overseas approaches to improving agricultural competitiveness have relevance for Australia?

Mr Joyce said the green paper includes policy options to reduce the regulatory burden on farmers and potential changes to Australian competition laws.

“There are some ideas around how Australia can improve market competition, including introducing more price transparency throughout the whole food and fibre supply chain and facilitating greater use of cooperative structures.

“There are also suggestions for deregulation at the state and territory level—including removal of excessive native vegetation laws, improving the efficiency of the native title system and providing greater consistency in biosecurity regulations between Australian jurisdictions.

Other issues covered by the green paper include infrastructure; working with the states and territories; finance, business structures and taxation; foreign investment; education, skills and training, and labour; drought; water and natural resource management; research, development and extension; bio-security and accessing international markets.

To read the green paper and the issues paper, and make a submission, visit: https://agriculturalcompetitiveness.dpmc.gov.au

Source: Department of Agriculture.

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