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‘Repeal Day’ sets the scene for much-needed reform

26 March 2014

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today welcomed ‘Repeal Day’, acknowledging the Australian Government’s work to lessen the burden for businesses to comply with unnecessary and costly legislation and regulation.

NFF General Manager of Policy, Tony Mahar, commended the Government on responding to the call from the NFF and farmers to take steps to remove duplicative and unnecessary burdens regarding the regulation of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals.

“We encourage the Government to continue exploring opportunities to remove red tape. Given the existing impost on agribusiness, it is clear that much more must be done to maintain the competitiveness of Australian agricultural industries,” Mr Mahar said.

“Effective regulation is necessary. It safeguards businesses, the environment and our communities. Poorly designed regulation, however, can act like a tax on business, raising costs and stifling innovation.

“A particular focus on improving regulation surrounding transport of agricultural goods, on-farm labour and environmental assessments could realise significant benefits for farm businesses and should be prioritised by policy makers,” Mr Mahar said.

To further inform policy discussions, the NFF has today released a report that updates work from 2007: A snapshot of the red tape costs on farms in Australia. The report analyses administrative and compliance costs associated with a sample of farm operations.

The report estimates that farmers spend over 20 days—around 10 per cent of the working year—consumed in tasks associated with regulatory compliance. In total, for the average farm, red tape equated to around 14 per cent of net farm profit, eating into 3.9 per cent of farm income. Only a small portion of these costs would be reduced with the repeal exercises currently being undertaken.

“The report is by no means comprehensive, but provides a sound indication of the costs faced by Australian farm businesses. Depending on their enterprise mix, the report finds some farmers are incurring costs of between $24,000 and $43,000 each year,” Mr Mahar said.

“Beyond repealing legislation, there are a number of other steps Governments can take to reduce red tape on business. Governments should be working with each other, and with industry, to explore alternative policy approaches that do not require regulation. Governments must also closely examine regulators to ensure they are not being unnecessarily heavy-handed and are operating efficiently.

“We’d like to see a specific initiative that examines where the red tape costs are in the farm sector, using a number of specific case studies to demonstrate what farmers have to cope with. There needs to be more of a focus on rational and sensible policy settings that lessen the burden for both authorities and farmers,” Mr Mahar said.

A snapshot of the red tape costs on farms in Australia was completed for the NFF by Holmes Sackett, with valuable assistance from Cotton Australia. The report is available below.

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