The Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio provides significant benefit to regional Australia. The majority of agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food industries are located throughout regional Australia, and their employees and related businesses underpin many local economies. These industries also contribute strongly to the Australian way of life, the food Australians eat, the sustainability of our environment and the state of the economy. In 2012‑13 the portfolio will continue important work to improve the productivity, competiveness and sustainability of these critical industries and support their ability to move goods in and out of the country while managing the risks to the environment and animal, plant and human health.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will continue to support regional Australia by delivering services directly to those who need it and by maintaining a strong presence in regional Australia through the Department's regional activities. More than 15 per cent of the Department's employees are based in regional Australia. These officers undertake a range of functions including quarantine services and plant and animal pest and disease monitoring and surveillance. The Department will also continue to maintain a biosecurity service delivery network with over 2,500 quarantine approved premises located throughout Australia. In 2012‑13 the Department will also continue to regulate more than 300 registered meat export establishments, many of which are in regional areas. The Department is responsible for three Australian Plague Locust Commission field offices which are located in Longreach, Narromine and Broken Hill with nine staff who undertake ongoing locust surveillance, monitoring and the implementation of the locust control program in regional Australia.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio agencies will also continue to support regional Australia. One of these agencies, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation is located in regional Australia and all of the staff of this agency are located in Narrabri - the centre of one of Australia's major cotton growing regions. Other portfolio agencies, such as the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Association, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Grains Research and Development Corporation have staff based in regional Australia.
Table 1 illustrates a summary of expenditure by program disaggregated between regional Australia, non-regional and non-specific locations for the budget year and forward estimates for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio.
The portfolio has a particular focus on regional Australia, aiming to enhance the sustainability, profitability and competitiveness of Australia's agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food industries.
A significant proportion of Australia's agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries, their employees and related businesses, are located throughout regional Australia. These industries are very important to local economies. Consequently, a large proportion of the Government's activity in this portfolio directly benefits regional Australia.
Specific information on each program and portfolio agencies is provided in the Portfolio Budget Statements.
While there are offices and staff based in urban areas, their work also benefits Australia's regional priorities.
The systems currently in place are not able to provide further delineation of regional expenditure.
A sustainable biosecurity system for Australia
Australia's biosecurity system lies at the heart of our position as a trading nation. It directly underpins 300,000 jobs and $36.0 billion per annum worth of agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports; primarily from regional Australia. The Government is committed to building a sustainable biosecurity system that can meet the challenges of the future. Since the 2009‑10 Budget, the Australian Government has committed more than $1.6 billion to protect Australia's agricultural sector and reputation as a clean and wholesome supplier of food. Rural and regional Australia is a key beneficiary of a strong biosecurity system.
The 2012‑13 Budget provides a $524.2 million investment in Australia's biosecurity system to deliver a state-of-the-art quarantine facility and strengthen Australia's defences against pests and diseases. The Gillard Government is also prioritising the reform of century-old legislation.
On top of the wider biosecurity investment, a separate $95.9 million over seven years allocated from the Caring for our Country program will fund existing eradication programs for nationally significant pests and diseases.
A new post-entry quarantine facility
Australia as a trading nation, needs access to genetic material to underpin productivity growth and the development of our agricultural industries. Access to government operated post-entry quarantine facilities to manage the import of high risk animal and plant species is a key component of Australia's biosecurity system. In 2011‑12, the Government provided funding to purchase land and undertake initial scoping and design work required to address future post-entry quarantine arrangements. The 2012‑13 Budget commits $379.9 million over seven years ($220.5 million over four years) for the construction of a new government owned and operated post entry quarantine station and maintenance of current facilities until their leases expire. It is expected that a new facility will commence operations in a staged manner from 2015.
The new facility will ensure an ongoing sustainable capacity to facilitate the safe importation of high biosecurity risk animal and plant species — imports that are necessary if Australian agriculture is to build and maintain its competiveness and productivity through access to new genetic material. A secure, efficient and cost effective government-owned facility discourages smuggling, reducing the biosecurity risk.
Maintaining core biosecurity operations — a risk-based approach
Terminating elements of core frontline operations and external review and verification processes will be maintained with funding of $122.5 million (over $30.0 million per annum) provided on an ongoing basis for core frontline biosecurity operations and external review and verification processes. This funding is critical to support core biosecurity functions, including screening of passengers and international mail, maintaining import risk assessment capacity, providing ongoing verification of the biosecurity system and delivering key elements of the national biosecurity management system. The ongoing funding will maintain over 200 full-time equivalent positions, many of which are located in regional areas delivering frontline border risk management outcomes.
Support for our ongoing business, together with the progress already made towards a risk based approach to biosecurity, enhanced data collection and new legislation will allow us to align resources to areas of highest risk. This includes refocusing border inspection effort to keeping risks offshore through enhanced compliance and verification activities. The reforms will increasingly deliver productivity improvements to importers, and exporters, and better biosecurity outcomes for the Australian community and the environment.
Support outdated information and communication systems
The 2012‑13 Budget provides $19.8 million over three years to support current biosecurity ICT infrastructure and systems. This funding will sustain critical infrastructure and data storage and develops initial capacity to improve the management of information assets across the biosecurity environment to ensure client needs can continue to be met.
New Biosecurity legislation
The Government is committed to ongoing reform of our national biosecurity system. A cornerstone of these reforms will be putting in place a new Biosecurity Act which will replace legislation that was first written in 1908. It will deliver broader, yet simpler provisions that provide flexible powers to efficiently and responsively manage Australia's biosecurity risks.
The new legislation will focus on responsive regulation, enabling a system that intervenes where there is a biosecurity risk that needs to be managed, and will promote effective cooperation between governments, trading partners, industry participants and the community. Exposure draft Bills and a consultation draft of the regulation impact statement are expected to be released in the first half of 2012, with the Bills anticipated to be introduced and debated in Parliament in the second half of 2012.
Pest and disease eradication programs
Recognising that pests and diseases can reach our shores and impact unduly on regional Australia, the Commonwealth, in partnership with the States, Territories and industry, contributes to the effective control of outbreaks if and when they occur. The 2012‑13 Budget allocates an additional $95.9 million over seven years from the Caring for our Country program, for eradication of nationally significant agricultural, environmental, animal and plant pests and diseases. Existing eradication programs include: Red Imported Fire Ants; four tropical weeds; Electric Ants; Chestnut Blight; Branched Broomrape; Low Pathogenic Influenza; Siam Weed; and Cocoa Pod Borer. This investment includes ongoing funding for these types of responses and supports the collaborative approach by governments and industry to ensure pest and disease outbreaks are brought under control as quickly as possible.
During 2012‑13 reform work will continue to develop and deliver business improvements to facilitate trade and strengthen a truly national biosecurity system, benefiting regional Australia by reducing the risk of pest or disease incursions and improving market access for agriculture export industries.
Commitment to another five years of Caring for our Country
In the 2012‑13 Budget, the Government agreed to the design elements for the ongoing Caring for our Country program. From July 2013 Caring for our Country will be delivered through two streams — 'national sustainable environment' and 'national sustainable agriculture'. The agriculture stream will be overseen by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, enabling a greater program focus on the role farmers play in keeping our land productive and the projects needed to support their efforts. This will provide a significant benefit to our environment, communities, and farmers in regional Australia.
Funding of over $500.0 million over five years, plus $200.0 million already provided for Landcare from 2013, has been provided to the 'national sustainable agriculture' stream for a mix of grants and partnerships with regional and industry groups, including a focus on:
- encouraging more innovative and sustainable resource management practices in agriculture and fisheries;
- reducing the impact of agriculture and fisheries on the resource base;
- improving our national coordination of the management, information provision and surveillance of established and sleeper weeds and pest animals of agricultural significance;
- eradication of new weed, pest and disease incursions; and
- building community capacity and regional leadership.
Supporting farmers into the future
The Australian Government is allocating $22.8 million to continue household support for farm families in hardship under the Transitional Farm Family Payment, for a further two years to 30 June 2014.
The Government recognises that some farmers may experience significant financial hardship at any time for a range of reasons. Through this program, farm families experiencing hardship will be able to apply for up to 12 months of household income support, paid at the same rate as the Newstart Allowance.
The household income support will be combined with individualised case management assistance and activities for helping families improve their long term financial security. The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) will continue its central role in this process, helping farmers to consider their business and financial options to address climate variability and other pressures.
Eligible farmers Australia wide will be able to access the Transitional Farm Family Payment. Extension of the program will be transitional while proposals for future drought programs are finalised. The Government is looking at ways to better help farmers manage risks and prepare for future challenges through engagement with State and Territory governments and consultation with industry stakeholders.
Reform of Australia's biosecurity system
The Australian Government recognises that an efficient and effective biosecurity system is critical to regional Australia and its economy. This budget reaffirms the Government's commitment to regional Australia by building a sustainable approach to minimise the threat of introduction of exotic pests and diseases that can adversely impact on our industries, people and natural environment and to enhance market access for our exports.
Australia's agricultural sector remains free from the most destructive pests and diseases - an advantage that confers a comparative advantage to Australia's agricultural exports. As a nation that exports approximately two thirds of its agricultural, fisheries and forestry produce (valued at $36.0 billion in 2010‑11), the Australian economy and rural communities, including over 300,000 jobs, are dependent on the flow of trade.
Effective management of the biosecurity system requires a regionally focused work force. In 2010‑11 sixty per cent of the Department's Australia-based officers worked outside Canberra, with the vast majority of these undertaking biosecurity related activities and maintaining strong linkages with on the ground officers in regional areas in the States and Territories. The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy is a strong advocate for Indigenous employment and currently employs a number of Indigenous officers and engages closely with Indigenous communities to survey our northern coastline and neighbouring countries for early signs of new pests or diseases.
The announcements in the 2012‑13 Budget build on the strong progress in reforming Australia's biosecurity system since 2008. This is highlighted in the report Reform of Australia's biosecurity system — An update since the publication of One Biosecurity: A Working Partnership, released by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig on 7 March 2012. The reform agenda focuses on building a sustainable system that manages risk across the continuum to better support consistent service delivery onshore, at the border and offshore; providing effective biosecurity risk management underpinned by sound evidence and policy; improving the efficiency and responsiveness of operations through modern legislation and technology systems; and strengthening stakeholder relationships.
During 2011‑12, achievements were made across all areas of the reform agenda. Improved risk-based profiling and inspection processes at airports, mail centres and seaports allowed more targeted inspections to focus on the highest risks and offshore risk mitigation measures were enhanced through the Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme and capacity building activities. The Department partnered strategically with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service through a new memorandum of understanding to develop sector specific biosecurity training packages and recognise importers' food safety management systems through compliance agreements. New legislation to replace the Quarantine Act 1908 and subordinate legislation is close to being finalised and will be implemented with funding provided in the 2012‑13 Budget.
In January 2012, the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity came into effect to strengthen the collaborative approach between the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments in addressing Australia's biosecurity issues. The National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement is the first deliverable of the agreement and will further strengthen Australia's biosecurity system by establishing arrangements for responses to nationally significant biosecurity incidents where there are predominantly public benefits.
The Government, in partnership with industry, is also delivering a modern export certification system to maintain Australia's reputation as a producer of high quality, safe food products. The Government's investment of $127.4 million (in 2009‑10) has already delivered reduced regulatory costs to the meat industry of $10.0 million per annum in the 2010‑11 financial year. New arrangements, once fully implemented, are expected to reduce the cost of Government service delivery by up to $30.0 million per annum.
Strengthening Australia's ability to combat foot-and-mouth disease
Under the Australian Government's National Foot and Mouth Disease Action Plan (FMD Action Plan), regional Australia will benefit from a suite of projects that strengthen Australia's preparedness and capacity to prevent or respond to an emergency animal disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth disease (FMD).
Australia has a strong record for biosecurity control with respect to FMD, however we all need to remain vigilant to ensure Australia is adequately prepared to effectively manage the threat of such high impact diseases. The consequences of an outbreak of a high impact emergency animal disease such as FMD in Australia would be significant — the costs of a FMD outbreak in Australia could reach $16.0 billion.
The FMD Action Plan provides the framework for collaborative and coordinated action across State and Territory governments and industry. It will strengthen regional community resilience, increase preparedness, prevention and anticipation capacity and improve emergency response capacity against the threat of FMD. Activities under the FMD Action Plan facilitates a more rigorous application of the risk based approach, which will see program activities focus on the regional communities at greatest risk, and strategies designed for the unique risk profile of each regional area.
Caring for our Country and Landcare
Through the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative (2008 to 2013) significant support is provided to Landcare, in particular to regional Australia. Caring for our Country seeks to achieve an environment that is healthier, better protected, well managed, productive and provides essential ecosystem services in a changing climate.
Through the Landcare component of Caring for our Country $189.0 million over five years from 2008 ($37.2 million in 2012‑13) is supporting national, regional and local Landcare activities. This includes $33.6 million over four years ($8.4 million in 2012‑13) to employ a Regional Landcare Facilitator in each of the 56 natural resource management (NRM) regions across Australia. Facilitators support community Landcare groups and assist production groups and farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices.
Community Action Grants are small grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 to target established local community based organisations that are successfully delivering projects to support sustainable farming and to protect and enhance the natural environment.
Landcare and sustainable agriculture projects in regional Australia are also supported by Caring for our Country through baseline funding provided to the 56 NRM regions across Australia in addition to the annual open call grants round (through the Caring for our Country Business Plan 2012‑13).
Carbon Farming Future: Filling the Research Gap
The Carbon Farming Future: Filling the Research Gap Program will invest $201.0 million over the next six years for research into emerging abatement technologies, strategies and innovative management practices that support farmers and other landholders to participate in the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and improve sustainable agricultural practices. This initiative is also part of the Clean Energy Future — Creating Opportunities on the Land program and will benefit regional Australia.
Research will include innovative cropping and grazing practices or new crop species to build soil carbon, new fertiliser technologies and management strategies to reduce soil nitrous oxide emissions, cattle genetics and feed alternatives to reduce livestock methane emissions and waste management strategies.
Surveys of common practice in different agricultural industries across different regions will be undertaken to inform the 'common practice additionality' test under the CFI and target research where it will be most effective.
The program will engage internationally through the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases to ensure Australia is at the cutting edge of on farm innovation, productivity and sustainability outcomes in order to address the global challenge of food security.
The program will increase the ability of farming businesses across regional Australia to generate multiple income streams through the CFI. It will help farmers to increase the diversity of their assets and activities, and in doing so will provide the flexibility to substitute between them in response to climate change. This will ensure a positive impact on families living in regional communities by increasing farm resilience in the long term.
Action on the Ground
Action on the Ground will invest up to $99.3 million ($89.3 million from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2017) in competitive grant funding for on farm projects over six years to June 2017. Up to $7.0 million will be spent for on-farm projects in 2012‑13. This is the second initiative administered by the Department under the Clean Energy Future — Creating Opportunities on the Land program. It is designed to assist landholders and farmers commence on farm trial and demonstration of practices and abatement technologies to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and / or increase carbon sequestered in soil.
Action on the Ground projects will create new opportunities for landholders and farmers to participate in the CFI by trialling and demonstrating outcomes from research programs, including the Climate Change Research Program and the Filling the Research Gap program. Projects under Action on the Ground will ensure that research results can be practically applied on the ground in real farming situations under a range of geographic and climatic conditions.
The outcomes of Action on the Ground will assist landholders and farmers reduce on‑farm emissions and maintain productivity by trialling and promoting the adoption of improved farm management practices and abatement technologies. The outcomes from Action on the Ground will help underpin the development of new land sector CFI abatement methodologies that landholders across peri-urban and regional Australia may be able to use to increase on-farm incomes.
Extension and Outreach Program
The Extension and Outreach initiative is the third component of the Clean Energy Future — Creating Opportunities on the Land program. The Government has allocated $64.0 million, from 2011—12 to 2016—17, to provide farmers, forest growers and other land managers with technical information and support about carbon farming and the CFI through trusted and credible sources.
The program complements the Carbon Farming Initiative Communications Program as the next step for land managers in rural, regional and remote communities to access more technical information to help them understand how to integrate CFI activities into their business planning.
Over the next year, the Government will provide around $7.6 million to raise awareness and understanding about ways land managers can reduce their on farm greenhouse gas emissions and how to participate in the CFI, communicate climate change research outcomes and establish a support base for land managers thinking about participating in the CFI. This funding will be used to provide extension officers -building on existing extension networks and providing additional officers where required - to assist people in rural, regional and remote Australia to realise the benefits of creating land based carbon credits. Funding will also continue the development of communication material and decision support tools to enable people to take action on the land.
Carbon Farming Initiative Communications Program
In 2010, the Australian Government allocated $4.0 million over three years to 30 June 2014 to provide information and tools to improve:
- farmers', forest growers' and other land managers' understanding of the CFI;
- the opportunities arising from reducing on farm greenhouse gas emissions or sequestering carbon and creating land-based carbon credits; and
- participation from farmers, forest growers and other land managers in the CFI.
This program is enabling people in rural, regional and remote Australia to make informed decisions about the CFI by providing credible, clear and consistent information.
To connect with land managers across regional, rural and remote areas of Australia, the Government is providing $1.3 million in grant funding in 2012‑13 to the Regional Landcare Facilitators, across the 56 NRM regions, to deliver CFI communication activities. This funding will support training workshops, field days, forums, road shows and other information sessions across Australia. The Regional Landcare Facilitators are also engaging with local experts and organisations within their region — such as farming/industry groups and Landcare groups — to deliver information on the CFI and carbon farming that is industry and regionally relevant.
New communication tools and Regional Landcare Facilitator training on the CFI will complement the grant funding.
National Food Plan
The Australian Government is developing Australia's first ever National Food Plan to ensure the Government's policy settings are right over the short, medium and long term. To support this important initiative, the Government has allocated $1.5 million over four years to 2014‑15.
The Government is developing the plan through a highly consultative green paper/white paper process. The Government has already begun work developing the green paper, which will outline how current policy addresses food issues and discuss any potential changes the Government might consider to policy, programs and governance arrangements. The green paper will be released for public consultation to allow stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback before the National Food Plan, to be released as a white paper, is prepared.
Through the National Food Plan, the Government aims to ensure a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply, supporting access to nutritious and affordable food. In this regard, the plan will help position Australia to meet the emerging challenges and opportunities derived from the long term changes set to influence our food system, which include:
- shifting consumption patterns and economic growth;
- ongoing globalisation;
- population and income growth strongly driving food demand; and
- environmental and natural resource constraints potentially limiting growth in food production.
Given the strong linkages between regional Australia and the food industry, a productive and competitive food industry will deliver benefits to regional Australia in the form of employment and income generation.
Investment in research, development and innovation
Investment in research, development and innovation is vital for ongoing growth and improvement in the productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia's agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food industries. By maintaining its strong support for rural research and development through the 15 Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) and other measures, the Government makes an important contribution to the overall economic diversity, social cohesion and environmental sustainability of the regional communities that rely upon these primary industries.
In June 2011 the Government reaffirmed its commitment to continue to match 50 per cent of the funding contributions for rural research and development provided to the RDCs. While the Government is committed to maintaining the funding, it has acknowledged that improvements can be made to the RDC model. The Government is in the process of developing a final response to the Productivity Commission's report on the RDC system and to the National Strategic Rural Research and Development Investment Plan prepared by the Rural Research and Development Council.
Rural labour and skills
The Government is committed to addressing labour and skills issues in regional Australia. In late 2011, the ministerial Standing Council of Primary Industries endorsed an agricultural productivity work plan to be implemented cooperatively by officials from all Australian jurisdictions. Under the work plan, seven key projects were identified; one of which is the building human capital project. The building human capital project will examine how primary industries agencies may be able to influence and address the significant issues facing the primary industries workforce. The Government is also continuing to work with the Primary Industries Education Foundation, the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education and the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture to promote careers in agriculture.
Better Regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals
The Government will continue the Better Regulation of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (agvet) reform initiative that will directly benefit the community, manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and users of agvet chemicals. The reform aims to reduce regulatory complexity for farmers and other businesses and encourage the development of modern, cleaner and safer chemicals, with a range of benefits for farmers and other users, the environment and the community.
The proposed reforms will improve:
- timeframes for chemical approval and registration, providing a predictable path to market and improving the availability of new, potentially more effective, safer and less environmentally harmful agvet chemicals;
- the review process for agvet chemicals by ensuring that existing chemicals meet appropriate standards, leading to better health and safety outcomes for people and the environment; and
- consistency, efficiency and effectiveness of the regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
The Government will also develop an overarching risk framework for agvet chemicals and establish enhanced compliance measures to provide improved health and environmental protection.
In addition, the Council of Australian Governments is progressing reforms of the control of chemical use of agvet chemicals. This process complements the Government's Better Regulation reforms and aims to improve consistency of agvet chemical regulation across Australia.
Rural Financial Counselling Service
The Government also funds, in partnership with participating State and Territory Governments, the Rural Financial Counselling Service which employ more than 190 individuals in regional Australia—119 of which fill rural financial counselling positions.
The Government is providing $13.6 million in 2011‑12 to fund the program. This program provides grants to 14 regional and State not for profit organisations to provide vital financial and business information and decision support to primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses as they deal with the impacts of difficult seasons and other pressures on their businesses. Figure 1 shows the distribution of office locations across Australia. In 2010‑11, the service provided assistance to more than 10,737 people. During 2011‑12, the service has already assisted 7,826 clients (as at 30 April 2012). The service will continue to provide critical support to clients who are dealing with the longer term outcomes of the past decade of drought and will assist clients to access government support available for other events as they occur.
Figure 1: Distribution of Rural Financial Counselling Service office locations across Australia
|Queensland — Central Southern Region||Longreach, Biggenden, Goondiwindi, Emerald, Mundubbera, Miles, Chinchilla and St George|
|Queensland — South West Region||Roma, Charleville and Taroom|
|NSW — Northern Region||Casino, Armidale, Coonabarabran, Gloucester, Inverell, Macksville, Moree, Narrabri, Scone, Taree and Manilla|
|NSW — Central West||Dubbo, Buronga, Coonamble, Forbes, Gilgandra, Mudgee, Nyngan, Orange, Parkes, Tottenham and Walgett|
|NSW — Bourke||Bourke|
|NSW — Southern Region||Cooma, Coleambally, Cowra, Crookwell, Deniliquin, Ganmain, Griffith, Hay, Lake Cargelligo and West Wyalong|
|Victoria — North Central||Bendigo, Carisbrook, Kerang, Pyramid Hill and Seymour|
|Victoria — Wimmera South West||Hamilton, Ballarat, Colac, Horsham and Terang|
|Victoria — Murray Mallee||Mildura, Woomerlang and Swan Hill|
|Victoria — Gippsland||Leongatha, Bairnsdale, Ellinbank and Maffra|
|Victoria — Goulburn Murray Hume||Albury/Wodonga, Benalla, Kyabram and Numurkah|
|Tasmania||Hobart, Launceston and Wynyard|
|South Australia||Magill, Clare, Murray Bridge, Loxton, Struan, Cleve, Wudinna and Kadina|
|Western Australia||Geraldton, Dalwallinu, East Beverley, Kukerin, Woodanilling, Hacketts Gully, Northam, Merridin and Albany|
Fisheries for the Future
Australia's fisheries production is distributed all along Australia's coastline and extends beyond Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone to the high seas. A number of coastal towns are highly dependent on fishing and associated industries.
In support of the regional Australian communities that rely on the fishing industry as an employer and supplier of fish for export and domestic markets, the Government continues work to ensure the sustainability of Australian fisheries. In 2012‑13 a number of important reviews on the Commonwealth's Fisheries Harvest Strategy and Bycatch policies will be undertaken.
Work will also continue with State and Territory Governments on sustainable marine resource sharing issues and progress the outcomes of the projects funded under the Recreational Fishing Industry Development Strategy.
National Indigenous Forestry Strategy
The National Indigenous Forestry Strategy aims to encourage Indigenous participation in forestry through business partnerships that provide long term benefits to Indigenous communities and to the forest and wood products industry.
In support of the National Indigenous Forestry Strategy, the former Bureau of Rural Sciences (now the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences (ABARES)) developed the National Indigenous Forest Mapping website. The site is able to be used to produce forest related maps for land areas managed by Indigenous Australians.
The forest maps, capacity building through mentoring, and facilitating relationships between government agencies and Indigenous communities are mechanisms that continue to support Indigenous participation in sustainable forest management.
During 2012‑13 this ongoing program will continue to facilitate business partnerships between Indigenous stakeholders and the forestry sector to support Indigenous communities' participation in the forest industry.
Australian Fisheries Management Authority
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) manages the Commonwealth's fisheries on behalf of the Australian community using the provisions of the Fisheries Management Act 1991. Most Commonwealth fisheries are based in rural and regional Australia and many form a vital economic and social component of these communities. AFMA manages Commonwealth fishing activities to ensure healthy fish populations and profitable fisheries now and into the future and in so doing contributes to maintaining and improving the prospects for the associated communities.
Key initiatives for AFMA in 2012‑13 include streamlining regulatory and other business processes including adoption of innovative technologies such as electronic logbooks and new electronic at sea monitoring tools to reduce the costs of fisheries management and improve profitability of all Commonwealth fisheries. AFMA will also continue to commission fisheries research based on balancing catch and cost against risk, and using ecological risk assessment and ecological risk management to meet AFMA's responsibilities for environmentally sustainable fisheries and prevent unacceptable impacts of Commonwealth fisheries on marine ecosystems and organisms.
Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority
The Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is a Government statutory authority established in 1993 to centralise the registration of all agricultural and veterinary chemical products into the Australian marketplace. There are currently over 9,000 different pesticides and veterinary medicines products in the Australian marketplace.
Pesticides and veterinary medicines are vital to quality food and fibre production and primary producers rely on the pesticides and veterinary medicines that are regulated to protect crops and animals from disease and pests. APVMA operations deliver these chemicals so that farmers and others working across regional Australia can protect their crops and animals.
In 2010‑11, the Government announced funding for the APVMA of $8.8 million over four years to support reforms to the regulation of agvet chemicals in Australia. These reforms aim to improve the systems that protect human health and the environment; reduce the regulatory burdens on industry and businesses; and enhance the APVMA's business and operational functions. This funding will also enable the APVMA to upgrade its information and communications technology infrastructure and underpin the APVMA's financial sustainability.
The APVMA's focus for 2012‑13 will be working with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to bed down the reform changes.
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) invests to develop knowledge that fosters sustainable, productive and profitable new and existing rural industries in government and industry partnerships. All of the rural industries which RIRDC supports are based in regional Australia. Key strategies under the RIRDC 2012—17 Corporate Plan that directly benefit regional Australia include:
- increase knowledge about rural industry development options that offer regional economic development opportunities; and
- facilitate investments for rural industries that deliver economic, social and environmental benefits for rural industries and their regional communities.
The RIRDC will invest $2.2 million to the National Hendra Virus Research program as part of a $3.0 million investment over the period 2011‑12 to 2014‑15. The aim of the investment is to minimise the impact of Hendra virus. The outcomes will primarily benefit regional Australians in Queensland and northern New South Wales, but also extend south through Victoria and South Australia. RIRDC is the managing agency of collaboration between four Commonwealth agencies (the Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education; and Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities and RIRDC) as part of a multi-jurisdictional (with New South Wales and Queensland Governments) coordinated investment.
Investment will be in research aligned to the following priority outcomes:
- the capacity to predict periods of high risk for Hendra virus transmission from flying foxes to horses - understanding Hendra virus ecology and modelling Hendra virus risk;
- the improved strategies to prevent transmission of Hendra virus from flying foxes to horses, from horses to humans, from horses to horses, and potentially to other susceptible species. Research areas could include:
- horse-flying fox interactions;
- horse and property management;
- factors influencing risk awareness and adoption of risk mitigation strategies; and
- the capacity to detect and respond effectively to Hendra virus incidents in horses, humans and potentially other susceptible species.
The RIRDC will invest $180,000 in 2012‑13 ($1.5 million total investment) and partner with the Queensland Government on a four year project to gather lessons learnt from cyclones Larry and Yasi. The project will also test and analyse cyclone protection measures for various crops and production systems in tropical Australia and produce a report to inform regional farmers and communities devastated by cyclones and contemplating their future in tropical Australia. Having been hit by two cyclones in five years, many farmers are questioning their continued involvement in agriculture in tropical Australia. Many regional communities in tropical Australia owe their existence to thriving agricultural industries and businesses that flourish in a tropical environment. When a cyclone destroys many local businesses or entire industries, the whole region suffers financially and emotionally. However, experience shows that there are measures that farmers can take to protect their livelihood by lessening the impact of cyclones on their operations.
The RIRDC will invest $200,000 in 2012‑13 on a collaborative primary industries health and safety project. The aim of this program is to further reduce accidental deaths and injuries in the farming, fishing and forestry communities in rural and regional Australia. The program ensures health and safety issues are given a high priority by farmers, fishers and foresters as an important factor in increasing their productivity and profitability. It also focuses on changing health and safety culture (beliefs and values) in order to minimise accidents, injuries and fatalities. An ageing workforce combined with ongoing skills shortages means that protecting the health of the current workforce is one of the keys to the sectors' competitive advantage.
In 2012‑13 RIRDC will also invest $100,000 ($300,000 over three years) in the development of the Gubinge Industry. This project will develop a foundational research project to underpin the further development of the Gubinge/Kakadu Plum industry to assist Indigenous communities in northern Australia. Critical to the development of this industry is the capacity to deliver consistent high quality product in sufficient volumes to match the considerable market interest in this product. To be able to achieve this, the significant variability in the natural population of Kakadu plum needs to be understood. Through the project Indigenous communities will be involved in the collection of genetic material and the establishment of genetic orchards within both a conventional horticultural and enrichment planting models. The variability in these collections in terms of meeting market specifications will be assessed utilising collaborative expertise from the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO), University of Western Australia, Charles Darwin University and Broome TAFE.
The RIRDC will also invest $40,000 in the essential oils and plant extracts industry. The essential oils and plant extracts industry in Australia is of strong regional significance in Tasmania and is well supported by leading research from the Tasmanian Government and significant industry infrastructure centres in and around Devonport, Ulverstone and Hobart. The industry is characterised by vertically integrated approaches between contract growers of raw materials and manufacturers that utilise state-of-the-art extraction technology to produce unique products where Australia has a competitive advantage. The industry has recently chosen to undertake a significant collaborative research effort with six industry partners from the region who are exploring new product development for both new and existing plant extracts. The development of new products in the personal care market will offer increased demand and new opportunities in the region where the raw materials are produced and then manufactured into high value products.
Cotton Research Development Corporation
The Cotton Research Development Corporation (CRDC) was established to enhance the performance of the Australian cotton industry and community through investing in research and development, and its application. Cotton is the major agricultural crop grown in many rural and remote regions of Queensland and New South Wales. It is a major employer and contributor to the local, State and national economy with annual exports worth in excess of $2.0 billion.
There are around 200 publicly funded researchers and related staff involved in cotton related research across 20 sites across Australia. The Australian Cotton Research Institute at Narrabri is the focus for around half of all cotton research. The CSIRO facilities at Black Mountain in the Australian Capital Territory and Geelong, Victoria are also key facilities.
In 2012‑13 the CRDC plans to invest $19.7 million in research and development that benefits the Australian cotton industry and the wider community by supporting the adoption of innovation that leads to increased productivity, competitiveness and environmental sustainability. Examples include research and development on improving energy and nitrogen use, reducing carbon pollution and soil carbon, and the adoption of more efficient irrigation technology and management practices.
The CRDC will also seek to better link initiatives with the education system for the supply of capable people with the workforce demands of industry and the research community. CRDC will be broadly supporting collaboration in human capacity development with RDCs and rural industry. Further, the importance of the capacity of people has been central to the resilience of the industry through two consecutive seasons of significant floods. CRDCs will continue to develop best practices and technologies that can assist growers improve risk management and flexibility of farming systems to prepare for and recover from climate change and natural disasters.
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
The fishing and aquaculture industry is one of the most complex of Australia's primary industries in terms of its structure and the natural resources on which it depends. A large component of the fishing and aquaculture industry activity is undertaken in regional Australia. As a result, a large proportion (around 40 per cent) of the 350 plus active Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) research and development projects and the associated research staff are based in regional Australia. Key regional locations include Geraldton, Broome, Port Lincoln, Lakes Entrance, Hobart, Launceston, Cairns, Townsville and Darwin.
The FRDC estimates that it will invest around $9.0 million per annum in regional and rural Australia. The benefit of FRDC's investment is twofold — research, development and extension benefits that have a positive impact on the fishing and aquaculture industry in the regions, and direct employment.
The FRDC will invest $2.4 million in 2012‑13, through a partnership with the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, to develop a blueprint for coastal regional communities that enable these communities to understand the biophysical, social and economic implications of climate change; and guide climate change adaptation strategies for fishers, aquaculturists and fishery managers across Australia.
In 2012‑13, the FRDC will invest $1.4 million in fourteen Atlantic Salmon research and development projects in Tasmania. Farmed Atlantic Salmon continue to be the largest aquaculture species group produced, and also the most valuable fishery in Australia. Atlantic Salmon accounts for around 40 per cent of the total value of Australian aquaculture production and 17 per cent of the total value of fisheries production. A key factor contributing to the rapid growth of this industry is a strong focus on marketing salmon to Australian consumers. The investment will enable the sector to adopt improved feeding techniques, apply better disease control measures, and control marine mammal incursions.
The FRDC will also invest $700,000 in Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) research and development projects in 2012‑13. The majority of this investment will be in Port Lincoln. Farmed production of SBT makes up the major share of the value of fisheries production in South Australia. The majority of SBT in Australia is caught by Commonwealth endorsed vessels in the Great Australian Bight, for delivery to aquaculture farms off Port Lincoln in South Australia for fattening. SBT accounts for around 35 per cent and 53 per cent of South Australian aquaculture production and value, respectively. This investment will allow the sector to continue to focus on improving production by reducing mortality from liver fluke, improving feeding techniques and closing the SBT life cycle through propagation and breeding.
Grains Research and Development Corporation
Across regional Australia there are over 22,000 grain growers nurturing the land to grow the best crop possible to generate on farm profit and to produce food for Australia and the world. Critical to growers' continued success is access to new information, products and services made possible through ongoing research, development and extension (RD&E) funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
The GRDC is a statutory authority established to invest in RD&E and related activities to benefit the Australian grains industry and the wider Australian community. The GRDC's primary objective is to drive the discovery, development and delivery of world class innovation to enhance the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Australian grain growers and benefit the industry and the wider community. The GRDC investment covers 25 crops, spanning temperate and tropical cereals, coarse grains, pulses and oilseeds.
The GRDC will invest $2.6 million in nine Regional Cropping Solutions networks, across the southern and western grain growing regions, to listen to the local needs of growers and their advisers and deliver customised products and services. Headed by facilitators with an understanding of local issues, the networks link growers, advisers, agribusiness and researchers, and provide feedback to the GRDC and its advisory panels. The initiative also complements the National Grains Industry Research, Development and Extension Strategy.
With the aim of improving water use efficiency of grain based farming systems the GRDC is investing $17.6 million over six years to 2013 (with $4.4 million invested in 2012‑13) in a coordinated initiative across the southern and western regions. The aim of the investment is to help growers make more profitable use of the rainfall received. CSIRO is assisting the initiative by providing science and crop, soil and climate modelling support to each of 17 regional projects.
In 2012‑13 GRDC will invest $6.0 million in a Crop Sequencing Initiative that will help grain growers and advisers to identify viable alternative crops and make effective crop sequencing decisions, through a combination of tactical and strategic farming systems RD&E. Trials have been established to assess the agronomic and economic value of grains, including brassica, pulse and pasture crops and fallow.
Through the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative and regional partners, the GRDC is investing $3.0 million in 2012‑13 for the Grain & Graze 2 program. The program is tackling climate variability and shifting market prices to help mixed farmers across 65 million hectares of rural and regional Australia to develop more resilient, viable and sustainable systems. The program will engage farmers and advisers through on farm research activities, demonstration trials, field days and workshops. The program aims to show growers how to minimise paddock downtime between cropping and pasture phases, match land use to land capability, implement better grazing strategies, improve water capture and storage, and reduce input costs.
The National Variety Trials (NVT) program represents the largest independent variety evaluation program in the world: in 2010‑11, 632 trials were conducted across more than 260 locations covering the breadth of the Australian winter grains cropping region. In 2012‑13 GRDC will invest approximately $5.0 million in NVT to provide grain growers with an unparalleled source of varietal performance information for winter cereals, oilseeds and pulses. All winter cereals, pulse and canola breeding programs participate in the NVT program. The trial results are published on the NVT website and in State department of agriculture crop sowing guides.
In 2012‑13 GRDC will also invest $5.1 million in Plant Pathology research and services to growers and advisors throughout regional Australia to be proactive and responsive in disease control and management. This supports additional GRDC investments in improving genetic resistance to crop disease.
Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation
The Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) supports a competitive Australian wine sector by investing in and directing RD&E programs along the whole value chain 'from vine to glass'.
The GWRDC's research providers include the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI), the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC), CSIRO, universities and State agencies. While these are mainly located in major cities, the grapegrowing and winemaking community (who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the research delivered) are predominantly located in regional Australia. The NWGIC is located in Wagga Wagga and GWRDC's estimated research and development expenditure at NWGIC will be $1.0 million in 2012‑13.
In addition to collaborating with the key research organisations to invest in research and development programs that benefit the whole sector, GWRDC has a number of projects that deliver investment funding directly to regional Australia to encourage the adoption of the research and development outcomes and thus support a competitive Australian wine sector. Three of these projects are:
- Regional Program: $725,000 per annum to fund regionally specific extension and adoption activities in Australian wine regions to ensure funds spent in regional areas achieve maximum impact. The Regional Program is delivered through 11 Regional Partners;
- Innovators' Network: $600,000 per annum to maintain a network of people actively engaged in winegrape production in the Australian wine sector who want to stay across the latest information and tools. The Innovators' Network is a key extension and information dissemination platform. Members include viticulturists, consultants, industry development officers, grower liaison officers, agribusiness representatives, chemical resellers and State Government extension officers. Members help spread knowledge to others in their regions through their networks and feed relevant information back to the GWRDC; and
- PhD, Masters and Honours scholarships: $450,000 per annum to students to engage in grape and wine research. While most of these students are studying at institutions in major cities, many of them come from grapegrowing and winemaking areas in regional Australia.
Sugar Research and Development Corporation
The Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC) research and development investment portfolio benefits regional Australia as the sugarcane industry is located mainly along Australia's eastern coastline, from Mossman in far north Queensland to Grafton in northern New South Wales. The SRDC works in partnership with the Australian sugarcane industry and the Australian Government to foster an innovative and sustainable sugarcane industry, through targeted investment in research and development.
The SRDC plans to invest around $9.0 million in 2012‑13 in research aligned to the needs and opportunities for the sugarcane industry under the following programs:
- Growing the Crop: which aims for a technology savvy, market driven, profitable, reliable and increasing supply of sugarcane;
- Milling the Crop: which aims for a profitable milling sector utilising improved technologies and processes;
- Sustaining the Environment: which aims for a sugar industry maintaining an awareness of and implementing best practices to ensure the impact of the industry's operation on the environments is kept to an acceptable minimum; and
- Skills and Capabilities: which aims for an industry committed to a culture of education, learning and innovativeness.
The SRDC will continue to invest in the commercialisation of a low cost trash separation plant. This NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative project is based on the design, construction and optimisation of a low cost, factory based trash separation plant at Condong Sugar Mill. A separation plant is of interest to the Co-operative as they wish for growers to harvest whole-crop cane (i.e. includes stalk, trash and tops) to eliminate field burning of cane and increase the mass of fibre available for cogeneration activities.
The SRDC will also continue to invest in the integration of sugarcane, grains, grain legumes and cotton in sustainable irrigated cropping systems in the Burdekin. This Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation led project will conduct baseline studies to determine the feasibility and likely productivity issues associated with developing an integrated farming system involving sugarcane, with possible rotation crops such as maize, grain legumes and others in the Burdekin Irrigation area. The expected outcome of this project will be that growers will be able to make informed decisions on the likely impact that crop diversification may have on enterprise profitability and cane productivity, with the resulting benefit of improved farming system flexibility and industry resilience in periods of fluctuating seasonal conditions and commodity prices.
Wine Australia Corporation
Wine Australia was established in 1981 to provide strategic support to the Australian wine sector. Wine Australia's specific services for the wine sector include strategic marketing, information and analysis, export and labelling regulation, advice on trade and market access issues, and the identification and protection of the nation's distinctive wine regions. Australia has just four percent of total world wine production but is the fourth largest exporter of wine by volume.
The international visitors program (IVP) enables Wine Australia to provide wine sector influencers with a first-hand experience of Australian wine and its regional diversity. Wine Australia organises and hosts visits to Australia and its wine regions by international media, key trade representatives, wine educators, sommeliers and other influential wine personalities. In 2012‑13 Wine Australia has budgeted approximately $800,000 for the IVP program which will fund approximately 80 visitors spending 350 days in Australia with over 200 regional visits.
Wine Australia will be conducting regional information workshops in 2012‑13. The workshops will be held in key regions in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The main purpose of the workshops is to improve awareness of the global wine sector intelligence that Wine Australia makes available to the Australian wine community. A core component of the workshops will be to demonstrate to the regions Wine Australia's new industry website and how they can access the information. The overall goal is to assist better decision making within the Australian wine sector, particularly at a regional level. In 2012‑13, approximately $20,000 will be allocated for this program.
In 2012‑13 Wine Australia will be coordinating a month long celebration of Australian wine following the inaugural A plus Australian Wine Celebration which was held in April 2012. This event provides a unique occasion for Australians to celebrate the great wine created in their own backyard, with close to 100 events being held across Australia in 2012 with more than 50 taking place in 35 regions. These events provide wine lovers with the opportunity to enjoy an exciting collection of wine, food and music festivals, meet winemakers and experience gourmet dining events and exclusive tasting opportunities. Total audience visiting these regional events is estimated to be approximately 20,000. In 2012‑13, approximately $150,000 will be allocated for this program.
If www.budget.gov.au responds slowly or you are having trouble downloading a document, try one of the Budget Website Mirrors
Note: Where possible, Budget documents are available in HTML and for downloading in Portable Document Format(PDF). If you require further information on any of the tables or charts on this website, please contact The Treasury.