Australia’s peak national grain grower representatives have called on growers to get involved in the public consultation process on the new biosecurity protection levy.
The process opened today with a discussion paper and public survey that closes on Monday 5 October 2023. HERE
Grain Producers Australia and GrainGrowers will present submissions for their members on the 10 per cent biosecurity protection levy announced by the Federal Government in the May budget.
The levy is due to start from 1 July 2024 and is intended to collect around $50 million annually from agricultural producers, with grain growers expected to contribute a disproportionate share.
Both peak national representative groups have expressed concerns and reservations about the new mechanism under which grower levy funding will go to consolidated revenue and not directly appropriated to support biosecurity efforts.
GPA members oppose the levy being paid by growers, and both groups share common principles around implementation and design elements that are key to the public consultation process.
The two organisations will continue working constructively with the government through the design process, to help deliver stronger biosecurity protection and improved outcomes for all stakeholders. They have called for a range of critical measures, including:
· transparency on how levy-funding is spent, to protect grain growers
· increased accountability on the government’s role, including clear performance measures
· the development of clear outcomes and actions relevant to grains industry participants
· outlining a pathway to implement a container levy as proposed in the 2017 Craik Review.
GrainGrowers Chair Rhys Turton said from an industry viewpoint Australia has had a series of incursions and near misses with threats from Russian wheat aphid, fall army worm, varroa and khapra beetle, to name just a few.
The discussion to date has all been around revenue raising, but industry needs to understand how government will deliver better biosecurity outcomes in a rapidly changing environment,” he said.
“What we need is an explanation and a clear set of performance measures around the way in which the Department will improve biosecurity for the grains industry. The consultation process is an ideal opportunity for growers to be heard on how any additional money will be spent in a beneficial manner by the government.”
“This will help direct targeted outcomes to protect our industry and the significant contribution grain production makes to rural communities and the national economy.”
GPA Chair Barry Large said GPA’s views on the levy proposal were unambiguous with a members’ survey rejecting the approach.
“GPA encourages all growers to read the government’s consultation paper and have their say to ensure we’re part of the design and the solutions,” he said.
“We also need to ensure the risk-creators are making more of a contribution to shared responsibility and accountability on biosecurity with the container levy introduced first, before another tax is placed on growers.
“If this levy is collected it must be very clearly shown as a separate line item on a grain growers’ recipient-created tax invoice (RCTI) to indicate this is a new levy and not part of the current system.
“Growers already pay hundreds of millions of dollars in levies to fund biosecurity protections and emergency management through Plant Health Australia and for the Grains Research and Development Corporation.”
GRDC’s investment in biosecurity has averaged $35m per year over the last five years. HERE