OPINION: THE Across Agriculture Group takes aim at the threat of political intervention in the national RDC agricultural levy system.
LEADING Australian agricultural organisations remain concerned by the threat of political intervention in the national R&D levy system, which is considered by many to be the envy of the agricultural world.
Participating organisations of the Across Agriculture Group (AAG) believe disallowance motions brought by Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, opposing the increases to the onion, mango and mushroom levies, have the potential to destroy Australia’s agricultural levy system.
Senator Leyonhjelm has an ideological opposition to levies in general and has publicly stated that his preference was ‘for levies to go entirely’.
AAG is united in its support of the current levy system which provides for Australia’s world-leading research and development, marketing, and plant and animal health systems.
While the disallowance motions relate to the onion, mango and mushroom industries on this occasion, the agriculture industry as a whole is deeply concerned about the potential ramifications this dangerous precedent sets for Australian agriculture more broadly.
This sentiment has been echoed by Labor’s Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, who has warned a disallowance of the measures would “threaten the viability of the levy system” and would “set a very bad precedent”. The Coalition is also opposed to any changes to the system.
The decision to increase the mango, mushroom and onion levies followed an extensive and comprehensive industry consultation process for all three industries and was the culmination of a five-year process that strictly adhered to the Department of Agriculture’s levy principles and guidelines.
“The proposals to increase each of these levies were instituted by growers who recognised the need to invest in their industries for the benefit of all levy payers. Levies are vital to the continued growth and development of the agriculture industry,” an Across Agriculture Group spokesman said.
“The levy system underpins the R&D capability, biosecurity capability and marketing capability of the entire agricultural sector in Australia. Over time, state and federal governments have withdrawn funding for agricultural extension services and grower-funded levies ensure that investments are still made in the industry, for the benefit of all growers.
“Although Senator Leyonhjelm is philosophically opposed to levies, we hope he can respect that democratic process that has been followed and the wide reaching ramifications a disallowance of the regulations will have on all of Australian agriculture.”
About the AAG
The Across Agriculture Group (AAG) is an affiliation of 45 agricultural peak industry bodies who represent and look after the interests of the levy payers in the agricultural levy/RDC (Research and Development Corporation) system.
The group is only concerned about issues impacting on the levy/RDC system and the benefits accruing to industry. AAG first emerged to represent the interests of levy payers in the review of the RDC model by the Productivity Commission a few years ago.
The AAG membership represents the majority of agriculture and horticulture producer organisations in the country.
Organisations participating in the Across Agriculture Group (representing producers who pay levies) include:
Australian Lot Feeders Association
National Farmers Federation
Australian Pork Limited
Australian Dairy Farmers Limited
Australian Forest Products Association
Sheepmeat Council Australia
Australian Mushroom Growers Association
Rice Growers Association
Grain Producers Australia
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council
Australian Chicken Meat Federation
Australian Fodder Industry Association
National Aquaculture Council
Wine Grape Growers Australia