Grain Producers Australia has welcomed statements by Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, recognising the grain industry’s market access needs and priorities.
GPA Chair, Andrew Weidemann, said Minister Tehan’s speech at the Australian Grains Industry Conference this week demonstrated the Australian Government understands the importance of building stronger and fairer market access, to grow opportunities for grain producers.
“Market volatility is something all producers understand and need to manage risks – not just for grain prices but also for farm inputs,” he said.
“With our industry expecting a harvest projected to be 54.8 million tonnes, based on latest estimates, market access is critical to returning and delivering value not only to Australian producers, but also sustaining the rural communities and industries we support.”
Mr Weidemann said GPA was encouraged by Minister Tehan’s comments that the government would continue working with the industry to ensure Australia remains a world-leader in producing and exporting grains, and that the grains industry’s future is bright.
“We also support Minister Tehan’s statements about the principles he’s taking to the trade portfolio in being proactive, principled and patient,” he said.
“This is especially important for the government in seeking to finalise a Free Trade Agreement with the EU by the middle of next year, to expand access for Australian grains into that market.
“GPA will continue working with Minister Tehan to ensure he understands the potential threats and sovereign risks of the ISCC certification system, on the ability of Australian canola farmers to sell into the EU market.
“We are concerned about the creeping agenda and underlying principles of this system, which is based on adherence to EU laws and farming requirements, but fails to properly recognise Australian grain is produced sustainably, using science-based farming practices.
“Unlike EU agriculture, Australian growers are not heavily subsidised by government and therefore we cannot afford to put ill-informed populism ahead of science, when it comes to demonstrating our sustainability credentials.”
Mr Weidemann said GPA also welcomed the Minister’s comments about putting more resources into securing an FTA with India, to speed-up arrangements and achieve an outcome by the end of the year, to pave the way for finalising something the following year.
“We agree with Minister Tehan that, especially for Australian grains, the opportunities in the Indian market are ‘extensive’,” he said.
“However, it’s important for grain producers that we have secure and reliable access to this market, with reduced volatility around the imposition of tariffs, in any deal.”
Mr Weidemann also acknowledged statements in Minister Tehan’s speech saying the Australian government would build relationships with important markets such as Japan, South Korea and Vietnam – and that he wants a constructive relationship and engagement, with the Chinese Government.
He said GPA also agreed with Minister Tehan that there was entrenched protectionism in agriculture trade.
“Statements by Minister Tehan saying he’ll continue fighting for farmers, which includes using groups such as the World Trade Organisation, in taking a principled approach to push for greater liberalisation – especially when we feel we’ve been harmed by others’ unfair actions, such as the dispute with China on barley trade – are positive,” he said.
“We are also acutely aware of the need to remain patient with the WTO dispute with China on barley export tariffs expected to probably take over two years to determine.”
Statements from Minister Tehan at AGIC about the new Agricultural Visa supporting the grain industry’s farm labour needs, are also positive. However expectations are realistic about any outcomes being delivered to provide heavy machinery operators, to deliver this year’s harvest.
Minister Tehan’s full speech available here: