While regulating the agricultural industry has always been a hotly contested debate between farmers, state and national governments, the Productivity Commission has recently recommended lifting many of these regulations to increase productivity.
The cost of the regulations for farmers and the limitations proposed have made the Productivity Commission rethink the necessity of many of these, such as the re-regulation of the sugar industry and deregulation of potato marketing.
Another controversial regulation that the commission is wanting lifted is the ban on planting of genetically modified crops in New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia, as well as the extra labelling required for genetically modified foods.
Other areas outlined in the Productivity Commissions recommendations include the use of agricultural land in ways that will retain the highest value for farmers.
Agforce highlighted that in Queensland alone there are 75 acts that had been passed by parliament which directly impacted on the agricultural sector.
While farmers support the easing up of regulations, something they’ve spent years fighting for, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) while backing the move, don’t support lifting these across the board as they believe some are crucial, such as biosecurity protocols.
The Chief Executive of the NFF Tony Mahar in a recent interview with the ABC said, “We’ve been advocating for some time the removal of regulation in agriculture. We’re a growing industry with huge opportunities, but it’s regulation that sometimes gets in the way of farmers making these gains.”
Re-regulation of the Sugar Industry
There has been a backlash over some of the recommendations made by the Productivity Commission, such as the Queensland Government being asked to repeal the Sugar Industry Amendment Act. While the act was popular with cane growers, sugar millers argued that it didn’t support their interests.
Remove the Ban on Genetically Modified Crops
The Productivity Commission highlighted that denying farmers in Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia from being able to grow genetically modified crops was unfair and had no relevant safety or health and economic reasons for the ban.
Increased Responsibility for Animal Welfare
The recommendation from the commission that farmers need to be responsible for using scientifically based principles to develop standards in farm welfare was popular with the RSPCA. To ensure this is policed the commission documented that a new Australian Commission for Animal Welfare (ACAW) was the answer.
No Changes to Biosecurity or Food Safety Recommendations
While the Productivity Commission pushed for many regulations to be lifted there were no recommendations for changes to the current laws on biosecurity and food safety. This is based on Australia’s reputation globally for being a country that is disease free, with extremely high health standards.
While some of the recommendations made by the Productivity Commission have been met with scepticism, any of these are believed to be in the best interests of agricultural progression nationally. Whether or not state and national governments remove, re-regulate or deregulate the current regulations is yet to be seen over the next few months or years.