Ag at levy crossroads

20 Aug, 2014 02:00 AM
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Levies are vital to the continued growth and development of the agriculture industry

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 Over time, state and federal governments have withdrawn funding for agricultural extension services and grower-funded levies ensure that investments are still made in the industry, for the benefit of all growers.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

Wool Producers

National Farmers Federation

Australian Pork Limited

Australian Dairy Farmers Limited

Australian Forest Products Association

Sheepmeat Council Australia

Australian Mushroom Growers Association

Cotton Australia

Rice Growers Association

Grain Producers Australia

Australian Honey Bee Industry Council

Australian Chicken Meat Federation

Australian Fodder Industry Association

Lucerne Australia

National Aquaculture Council

Dairy Connect

Wine Grape Growers Australia

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Across Agriculture Group
Date: Newest first | Oldest first

READER COMMENTS

LTF
20/08/2014 5:49:37 AM

Why not at least work with David Leyonhjelm? He does not propose dropping the levies according to his article in the Land today. He appears to be just seeking more regular voting by producers on the level of levies. Surely that is not unreasonable?
angry australian
20/08/2014 6:00:50 AM

I'm with Sen. Leyonhjelm on this. 18 organisations protecting their patch, all with offices,CEO's,staff,directors and various other parasites hanging off the system. $Billions have been diverted from industries and the taxpayer over the last 20 odd years,and the question needs answering just where are the defined benefits for the industries or nation from having these groups? Where is the increased productivity or profitability? With all the vagaries of the sharemarket we may have been better off investing the money there. It's just been a rort to fund researcher like CSIRO.
Geronimo
20/08/2014 7:47:42 AM

The Across Agriculture Group? I'm simply not across all these agriculture groups!!
angry australian
20/08/2014 7:54:43 AM

Joel Fitzgibbon, no wonder this country is in such a mess if that is ALP thinking.Another example of spending other peoples money with no thought as to the outcome. R&D and marketing are like everything else, useless if there is no return.
Gecko
20/08/2014 9:28:50 AM

I'm agast that there are people out there who support Sen. Leyonhjelm's views!. This Senator has made his views on Australian Augriculture very clear. He is anti anything that looks like support to Ag industries. All farmers in Australia should fear what this Senator can and will do to Agriculture in Australia!
Rob Moore
20/08/2014 9:53:51 AM

Suck it up AAG- go and get a real job on farmers wages. You are all as handy as a fat tick on a half starved sheep dog.
Rob Moore
20/08/2014 10:48:42 AM

David- great work! Just listening to the Country Hour-ABC and I haven't heard such a concerted effort /action /outcry from the freeloaders that make up this AAG. It is hilarious and ALL in the name of preserving their cushy jobs. Heard growers mentioned about a dozen times.First time they would have even thought of a producer beyond the "burbs" in a longtime.
nostradamus
20/08/2014 12:26:53 PM

I do like hearing opinions but where are the facts. I would bet that each and every one of the organisations that have been attacked could point to studies that show benefits to producers across a range of issues such as breeding, production, pasture improvements, pest and disease, genetics and marketing – many of which have returned multiples of the original investment. For Sen Leyonhjelm to step in and try and prevent three industries that, by all accounts, have consulted widely with their members, from identifying opportunities and investing in their own future, is quite simply a mistake.
Hollowman
20/08/2014 5:04:12 PM

Good points Nostradamus. Another is that none of the 18 organisations in this group receive grower marketing or R&D levies.They are recognised under government legislation for being accountable to farmers for representing their interests.
John Hine
20/08/2014 9:44:07 PM

Trick with how levies now operate is that is assumes all members of an industry have the same goals, markets etc. Why not cut levies in half, for long term projects, and negotiate access to R&D tax concessions for farmers in return. This would allow those farmers, or co-ops or groups of farmers, with their own projects to just do it without having to wait for annual rounds and having to get a committee to approve it. Compulsory levies are for commodities, R&D tax concessions are for products. Which way to we went to go? Surely, products??

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