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NFF urges swift action on the back of Red Tape report

28 March 2017

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report into Regulation of Agriculture, saying it should act as a wake up call on the issue of red tape.

NFF President Fiona Simson said that while the NFF doesn’t support all the ideas put forward, the Report clearly highlights the regulatory burden on Australian farm businesses.

“The message in the report is clear: the regulations our farmers are subject to are vast, complex and amount to a substantial burden,” Ms Simson said.

“The Report contains sensible findings on native vegetation laws – which the Productivity Commission says are complex, cumbersome and leave farmers bearing a disproportionate share of the financial burden for biodiversity conservation.”

The Commission rightly points to approval of agricultural chemicals, and regulation of heavy vehicles as additional areas for improvement.

“Taking a more evidence-, and risk-based approach to regulating agricultural chemicals and heavy vehicles would greatly improve the business environment for Australian farmers,” Ms Simson said.

“The specific recommendation to make better use of international data in the approval process for farm chemicals is a concept the NFF has supported for some time.

“We now have clear recommendations to cut this sort of red tape and governments need to sit up and take note.”

The NFF says the Commission overreaches in some areas of the Report which is a concern.

“Suggestions to restructure marketing arrangements in the sugar and rice industries are major reforms with significant consequences for growers of those commodities. Government should think and consult carefully before responding to this element of the report."

Animal welfare was also a strong focus of the report, which recommends the introduction of an ‘Australian Commission for Animal Welfare’.

“While the industry agrees with the need for strong leadership on animal welfare, and improved consistency in regulatory processes, we do not believe that another layer of bureaucracy is the solution.

“It appears as if the Commission has simply accepted the animal welfare lobby’s thesis and adopted it as a solution, which is a concern,” Ms Simson concluded.

The NFF will be working closely with Government to inform its response to the Commission’s Final Report.

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