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A plan for the future of Australian agriculture



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Election 10

Advancing Australia’s Interests Internationally

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A Plan for the Future of

Australian Agriculture

Election 13 Kevin Rudd and Labor

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Authorised and Printed by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton ACT

A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE OF AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURE

Joel Fitzgibbon

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Federal Labor has a clear plan for the future of agriculture backed by more than $4 billion in investment. We know the importance of farming, food processing and food services to our national economy and the 1.6 million Australians who work in this sector.

We respect farming families who produce our food and fibre. Farmers are the custodians and conservationists of vast areas of land. They use our limited resources productively and sustainably to feed communities across the world.

Federal Labor are the champions of trade. For every dollar our food producers make in Australia, they make two dollars in overseas markets. That is why a priority for Labor is enhancing market access and completing Free Trade Agreements with China, South Korea and Japan.

It is also why Federal Labor’s National Food Plan will grow the value of Australia’s $30.5 billion food export market by 45 per cent by 2025. We will do this by capitalising on emerging markets and the Asia-led ‘Dining Boom’.

Federal Labor will continue to grow the productivity and profitability of agribusinesses by investing almost $1 billion over the next four years in Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs). We will also provide $5 million to establish the Centre for Rural and Regional Futures (CeRRF) at Deakin University.

Federal Labor will protect the best interests of farmers. We have set a deadline of December this year for industry to implement a Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, after which time Federal Labor will appoint an independent mediator. Federal Labor will also have the National Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land operational by 1 July 2014.

Federal Labor has a plan to grow the skills and attract the workforce of the future needed to grow agriculture. We will establish 20 Trade Training Centres with an agricultural focus in rural and regional areas and invest $6.5 million in Agriculture and Food Job Expos and a national marketing campaign promoting jobs in the food industry.

Food manufacturers are a vital part of the Australian food supply chain and Federal Labor will support them. We will provide up to $25 million to SPC Ardmona for modernisation works at their Goulburn Valley operations, as well as $18 million to Simplot to invest in Devonport and Bathurst.

Only Federal Labor has a clear plan for the future of agriculture.

Election 13 Kevin Rudd and Labor

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A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE OF AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURE

Growing our food industry

For the first time, Australians have a road map for a competitive and sustainable food future, courtesy of Federal Labor’s $42 million National Food Plan.

The National Food Plan is a blueprint to boost Australia’s $30.5 billion food export market by 45 per cent by 2025.

Federal Labor invested $1.5 million to create the plan - a strategic policy with 16 clear goals to underpin food policy and government investment until 2025.

Under the key themes of Growing Exports, Thriving Industry, People and Sustainability, the plan will help Australian food businesses overcome diverse challenges and seize the opportunities offered by the emerging markets of Asia.

Asia’s middle class is forecast to grow six-fold to 3.2 billion over the next 20 years. This forecast puts Australia in the box seat as we produce more than twice the food we consume and export high-quality products that are in strong demand around the world.

By investing in the National Food Plan and sharpening our focus on new and growing markets, Federal Labor will work with Australian agribusinesses to maximise the opportunities presented by an Asia-led ‘Dining Boom’.

The Rudd Labor Government is committed to the continued implementation of the National Food Plan, and investing:

$28.5 million to establish an Asian Food Markets Research Fund.

$5.6 million to build our food trade ties and strengthen our relationships with trading partners in key and emerging markets.

$2.2 million in new funding to identify, understand and respond to Asia’s emerging food needs and preferences.

$2 million in new funding to develop a brand for Australian food that promotes purchases of our high quality products.

$1.5 million in new funding to support community gardens, farmers markets and other community food initiatives.

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Building market access

Federal Labor has been the champion of free trade and opening access to new markets because we understand our national prosperity relies on the strength of Australia as a trading nation. Our farmers and fishers produce enough food to feed around 60 million people. We export over half of the food we produce.

Federal Labor has, and will continue, to strengthen relationships with trading partners in Asia to promote the interests of Australian businesses and assist with resolving trade issues. Free Trade Agreements and negotiating better market access for Australian producers will be a key part of our support for Australia’s agriculture sector.

We will help deepen the engagement of Australian food businesses with regional and global supply chains to deliver a ‘dining boom’ by enhancing Australia’s international reputation as a reliable supplier of high-quality and safe food, particularly in Asia. In addition to the investment contained within the National Food Plan, Federal Labor will ensure businesses capitalise on the opportunities of the Asian Century and 'Dining Boom' through:

 Giving Australia’s diplomatic network the resources it needs to pursue and expand market access, especially across Asia.

 Supporting Australian industry to build business-to-business links and enhance trade relationships.

 Working with industry to identify emerging food needs and preferences of Asia and how Australia can best respond by using targeted marketing, promotion and appropriate branding to increase market share and grow exports.

 Providing support services for food businesses products, services and technology across a diverse range of markets.

 Working with industry to develop and deliver a ‘Brand Australia’ Global Food Strategy.

Making food-related research the priority of the first phase of the $236 million Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Research Program.

Federal Labor will continue to finalise Free Trade Negotiations with China, Japan and South Korea as a matter of priority.

Federal Labor will also invest $60 million through the Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Forum to rebuild red meat trade with our close neighbour.

Federal Labor will increase our network of overseas agricultural specialist through the Food Plan.

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Investing in innovation and productivity

Growing the profitability of Australian agribusinesses and meeting the demand of an Asia-led ‘Dining Boom’ will require investment in innovation and productivity gains through research, development and extension (RD&E).

Over the last six years, Federal Labor has invested a record amount of money and support into RD&E because we understand it plays a vital role in supporting the sustainability, competitiveness and productivity growth of Australia’s agricultural sector.

Most importantly, we know that productivity and volumes can’t be lifted without strong investment in RD&E, given our nation’s limited water and land resources. Our commitment to RD&E was underlined with our rejection of the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to reduce the level of government funding to Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs). Federal Labor is proud to have invested around $1.4 billion in RDCs in the last six years and boosted funding from $189 million in 2008-09 to $251 million in 2013-14.

While Australia’s food industry has a long and proud history of innovation, is highly productive, and remains competitive in international markets, Federal Labor understands that it is only by continuing to support rural industries through RD&E that we can continue to build success, increase efficiency and maximise profits for farmers.

Federal Labor’s Rural Research and Development Policy Statement, released last year, further emphasises our enduring commitment to world-class rural RD&E and our strong partnership with industry. Alongside the National Food Plan, this Statement is Federal Labor’s framework for strengthening and understanding rural RD&E. It will guide our efforts to increase investment, deliver value for money and pursue innovation that directly improves profitability across the industry.

Federal Labor instituted the biggest improvement to business R&D support for more than a decade through the Research and Development Tax Incentive Program. This program offers more generous support for industry that is targeted at activities generating wider benefits in Australia. The R&D Tax Incentive is working. Early analysis of the program shows there was a 14.6 per cent increase in the number of R&D performing companies accessing the new program, compared to the previous R&D Tax Concession. Reported R&D expenditure has increased by 18.7 per cent.

Federal Labor will invest $1 billion in RDCs over the next four years and will work closely with industry to develop new and innovative Cooperative Research Centres bids.

Federal Labor will provide $10 million to the Simplot Growers Group to undertake a productivity investment trial and secure the vegetable growing industry in North-West Tasmania.

We will invest $5 million to create a Centre for Rural and Regional Futures at Deakin University.

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Investing in food manufacturing

Australia’s reputation for high-quality, fresh produce is world renowned. However, the domestic food manufacturing and food services sector are also vital parts of the Australian food supply chain.

Federal Labor will not stand idly and watch food manufacturing disappear from our shores. We will support the facilities and skilled-workforce that allows us to value-add Australian produce domestically.

Innovation in food manufacturing will be crucial in meeting our goal to grow the value of Australian food exports by 45 per cent by 2025. Federal Labor supports increased innovation through targeted initiatives, such as research programs and funding for CRCs.

The first and second phases of the Australian Research Council's $236 million Industrial Transformation Research Program focus on food-related research, including future food storage, food processing, manufacturing capabilities and product opportunities. It will fund universities to partner with industry and form R&D hubs and training centres to help the industry innovate and seize emerging opportunities.

Federal Labor has also established the Food Industry Innovation Precinct as part of our A Plan for Australian Jobs. The precinct will help Australia's largest manufacturing sector become more strategic, commercially targeted and coordinated in a sustainable way. It will help develop consumer insights to inform a long-term innovation agenda aimed at realising opportunities in the Asian century. The precinct will focus on accelerating and enhancing the development capability of many food businesses through training, improved networking and collaboration.

Federal Labor is committed to protecting and promoting food manufacturing through:

Investing up to $25 million in SPC Ardmona to help secure fruit growing and processing in the Goulburn Valley.

Investing $18 million in Simplot’s Devonport and Bathurst plants, to modernise technology and streamline processing of Australian grown vegetables.

Provide matching funds of $125,000 to Lockyer Valley farmers to complete the feasibility work for a beetroot processing factory, making the project shovel ready.

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Creating the food jobs of the future

There are more than 1.6 million Australian’s employed in the food production, processing and services industry. This includes more than 157,000 farmers.

Australia’s farmers tend to be considerably older than other workers. In 2011, the median age of farmers was 53 years, compared with 39 years for people in other occupations. This is partly due to the fact that farmers are more likely to continue working well beyond the age at which most other workers retire.

In 2011, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of farmers were aged 65 years or over, compared with just 3 per cent of people in other occupations. The tendency of farmers to work beyond the traditional retirement age may reflect the decline in younger generations taking over family farms.

If we are to meet the future needs of the agricultural sector, we need to attract the next generation of workers in the sector and foster a desire in young people to move towards careers in agriculture.

Federal Labor’s Food and Agriculture Careers Plan will help build the economy, create jobs to capitalise on the ‘dining boom’ and secure Australia’s farming future. Our plan will ensure more young people will be able to receive training in farm management, machine operation, animal husbandry, weed and pest control, water management, food processing and scientific research and development so they can get a high-skilled food or agribusiness job.

Federal Labor’s National Workforce Development Plan is a $700 million initiative to support training and workforce development in areas of current and future skills needs. As at April this year, 39 projects had received support to train 1,585 workers in the agriculture sector.

Through our Food and Agriculture Careers Plan, Federal Labor will:

Ensure 20 Trade Training Centres under the next round of the program are dedicated to offering Vocational Education and Training opportunities in the agriculture and food sector.

Create the Agriculture and Food Jobs Board, a national, online resource so job seekers can search for employment opportunities in agriculture and the food industry across Australia.

Invest $6.5 million to establish an Aussie Food Jobs campaign, with the key centerpiece 20 Agriculture and Food Job Expos to be held in capital cities and regional centres around Australia.

Develop a marketing campaign in partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation and industry partners to promote Australian food jobs.

Ensure more kids can get hands on in a school yard garden through continuing the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden National Program.

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Supporting Australia’s primary producers

Federal Labor understands that farmers face climate and market condition challenges that are often out of their control. We understand that, from time to time, viable farm businesses need short-term relief and extra advice to work through challenging times.

That is why Federal Labor held a Rural Finance Roundtable in October 2012 to hear about issues from farmers and rural banking experts first-hand.

The result was Federal Labor’s announcement that, as part of the Farm Finance Package, $420 million in low-interest loans would be made available to help viable farmers in every State and the Northern Territory to improve cash flow and ease debt pressures. In addition, Federal Labor is spending an extra $5.9 million to provide 17 additional, full-time rural financial counsellor, who will help farm families make decisions about their future.

Federal Labor recently released the Fair Go For Farmers plan, that will give Australian farmers additional protection, information and support to help them operate successful farm businesses. This plan includes positive action to work with industry in implementing a Food and Grocery Code of Conduct.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates 99 per cent of agribusinesses operating in Australia are Australian owned and 89 per cent of agricultural land is fully Australian owned. A further 6 per cent of agricultural land is majority Australian owned.

While foreign investment can bring benefits and opportunities, Federal Labor understands the need for more and better information. That’s why Federal Labor is implementing a National Foreign Ownership Register to provide the community with a more comprehensive picture of the size and locations of foreign agricultural landholdings.

Federal Labor will:

Appoint an independent mediator to negotiate a Food and Grocery Code of Conduct if industry parties are unable to reach agreement by the end of 2013.

In partnership with industry develop a set of standardised contracts for produce supply so individual farm gate businesses can be confident of getting a fair price for their products.

Have the National Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land operational by 1 July 2014, commencing with a comprehensive stocktake of existing overseas ownership.

Deliver the $420 million Farm Finance Package to farmers in all States and Territories in full, as well as provide individual support to farmers through rural financial counsellors.

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Drought Reform

Federal Labor understands we can no longer wait until farmers are in crisis before offering assistance.

This is why we are working closely with the agricultural sector to provide pathways for Australian farmers to get back on their feet and prosper and succeed in the future.

Federal Labor will deliver $99.4 million over the next four years as part of its commitment to reform drought programs. The primary investment of this reform is the new Farm Household Allowance. It delivers $62.1 million for payments and benefits to farmers and their families. There will also be $37.3 million dedicated for implementation and service delivery.

The Farm Household Allowance will focus on risk management and preparedness. Case managers will support farm families as they make decisions about their future.

In addition, the Federal Labor Government in conjunction with the States and Territories signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform at a meeting of the Standing Council on Primary Industries in May 2013.

The Agreement outlines the key roles and responsibilities for each government in implementing the new national drought package from 1 July 2014. The Agreement framework guides government decisions to increase or introduce support when conditions are declining, without conflicting with the objectives of reform.

This reform is a move to a proactive system for managing drought.

The measures introduced by the Federal Labor Government are designed to ensure farmers are able to prepare for challenges and manage risks.

Federal Labor will implement the new National Drought Reform Program on 1 July 2014.

Federal Labor will invest $99.4 million over the next four years as part of our commitment to reform drought programs.

So farmers under stress can receive the support they need in the interim to new national drought arrangement, Federal Labor will allow recipients of the Transitional Farm Family Payment to apply for up to an additional six months of assistance to 30 June 2014. This increases the maximum of this important support measure from 12 to 18 months.

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Animal welfare

The health and wellbeing of animals is a priority for farmers, and is central to their successful business. Farmers understand and share community concerns about incidents of animal mistreatment and cruelty.

That is why Federal Labor has worked with farmers and the animal export industry to restore public confidence in the livestock export trade, and ensure the trade has a strong and sustainable future.

Australia now has the strongest animal welfare assurance system in the world and we are the only country that requires specific animal welfare conditions are met for exported livestock.

Federal Labor is also funding a range of projects to strengthen the implementation and delivery of our animal welfare assurance system, both domestically and internationally, including workshops with exporters.

It is also a requirement that Australia has a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with new markets that take our livestock.

In addition, the Rudd Labor Government recently announced an Independent Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports. The position will provide assurance and independent oversight of the role of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as the regulator of live animal exports.

The establishment of the Independent Inspector-General is a sensible extension to an already world-leading system, which adheres to international animal welfare standards, while not overloading farmers with unnecessary regulation.

Federal Labor will continue to consult with State and Territory Governments and the industry to achieve animal welfare outcomes.

Federal Labor will appoint an Independent Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports to continue to grow public confidence in the livestock trade industry.

Federal Labor will continue to support investments that achieve animal welfare outcomes with our trading partners.

Federal Labor will also ensure binding MoUs are in place with new markets receiving our livestock.

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Biosecurity

Federal Labor understands a strong and effective biosecurity system is essential to the continued prosperity of our agricultural sector.

After 11 years of Coalition Government, the quarantine system was run down, but Federal Labor has invested more than $1.6 billion to minimise threats to Australia’s primary production sectors and strengthen our reputation as a reliable exporter of high-quality food and fibre.

We are replacing the century-old Quarantine Act and investing $127.4 million in the development of a modern export certification system. We have committed nearly $380 million to build a state-of-the-art Post Entry Quarantine facility in Victoria.

In responding to the Beale Review, Federal Labor has sought to bring biosecurity functions under one roof and integrate them wholly into the activities of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Federal Labor has also established the role of the Interim Inspector-General of Biosecurity (IIGB). The IIGB reports directly to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to provide independent assurance of the ongoing integrity of Australia’s biosecurity systems through the independent evaluation and verification of the performance of existing biosecurity programs.

Labor knows weed removal is a big challenge and is the most commonly reported management activity being undertaken by 80 per cent of Australia’s farmers.

Weed-related issues impact three-quarters of Australian agricultural landholdings, which means for our farmers, effective weed management is often the difference between profit and loss.

That is why Federal Labor will invest $20 million in a new Community Weed Management Fund to pursue a strategic approach to reduce the impact weeds and pests have on agriculture.

Federal Labor will invest $20 million in a new Community Weed Management Fund to pursue a strategic approach to reducing the impact of weeds and pests on agriculture.

Federal Labor will deliver a new $380 million state-of-the-art Post Entry Quarantine facility in Victoria.

Federal Labor will pass into law landmark biosecurity legislation that is presently before the Parliament to help transition Australia’s biosecurity regime into a modern, risk-based, management system.

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Caring for our Country

Primary producers are custodians of the land. They understand that managing natural resources is central to a profitable and sustainable business. They are important conservationists.

Farmers manage over 60 per cent of the Australian land mass and their actions have direct implications for the Australian community. As the Asian ‘dining boom’ beckons, achieving balance between productivity and sustainable use of our land and water resources will become more important than ever. Federal Labor believes this change brings with it some challenges, but also enormous opportunities for our farmers.

Directing funding towards on-ground outcomes is paramount in the effort to maintain Australia’s unique biodiversity for future generations. That’s why Federal Labor has committed $2.1 billion in funding to continue the successful Caring for our Country programs (C4OC) for another five years until 2017-18.

This means work will continue to be carried out by farming communities to manage and protect our natural resources. It will continue to build on Federal Labor’s legacy of protecting and conserving our biodiversity and promote the adoption of sustainable farm practices.

The $603 million Sustainable Agriculture stream of C4OC will support the uptake of more sustainable farm and fisheries practices and enhance the capacity of land managers for improved natural resource management. This support will be available across all forms of production, including cropping, grazing, horticulture, agroforestry, fisheries and aquaculture.

Federal Labor will also deliver $65 million for the eradication of new pest incursions with support to be provided for national cost-shared eradication programs under existing agreements. Programs will include the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement, the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement and the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed.

This will ensure a strategic approach to prioritisation across a range of weed and pest responses.

The $437 million C4OC Regional Delivery funding, jointly delivered through the Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Environment streams, will also give NRM regions the capacity to implement innovative public private partnerships for the management of fire, pests and weeds on public land if they so choose.

Federal Labor will invest $2.1 billion in funding over the next five years to continue the successful Caring for our Country program.

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COALITION’S POSITIONS ON AGRICULTURE

The Coalition’s comments on agriculture lack vision and they lack conviction.

They have failed to recognise the enormous opportunities presented by Asia and are stuck in the last century with domestically-focused statements.

While the Coalition promises a white paper, Federal Labor has a National Food Plan to grow the value of Australia’s food exports by more than $13 billion over the next 12 years.

The Coalition is distracted by too many members waging internal battles to become the next Agriculture Minister should Tony Abbott become Prime Minister.

The Coalition has shown contempt for the farming and food sectors, by failing to respond to the National Farmers’ Federation Policy Priorities and failing to release an over-arching agriculture policy to rural voters.

Questions need to be asked about what cuts Tony Abbott will make to rural and regional Australia. He has played small target in this election campaign and refused to detail where he will make savage cuts to fill his budget black hole.

Federal Labor has a positive plan to build the future of agriculture. We will grow the new jobs and support agriculture with a $4 billion investment.