Bill sparks ag-vet debate | My Machinery
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Bill sparks ag-vet debate

National Farmers Federation CEO Matt Linnegar told the Senate inquiry into the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Bill 2012 that any reforms that improved the APVMA’s operational efficiency and effectiveness would be welcomed. But without a clear cost benefit analysis, Mr Linnegar said the NFF continued to hold concerns about proposed changes impacting on chemical costs and availability in the Australian market. “These impacts will ultimately be felt by the agricultural community and in the productivity and profitability of individual farm businesses,” he said. “The NFF views it would be appropriate for the government to undertake work on analysing the costs and benefits and provide this information to industry for consideration prior to progressing with these reforms.” Mr Linnegar said the proposed APVMA legislation also set off a red light for the NFF, due to more added costs that again were worn by industry. To counter that, he said there needed to be a reprioritisation of agriculture, food and fibre, from a government perspective. “We are going to continue dealing with these sorts of issues unless we start moving our way up the priority list when it comes to the focus of government – not just government expenditure but the focus of government as well,” he said. “If that includes a review of the sorts of things we are talking about here, at a larger scale, sometime in the future then I would be highly surprised if our members did not welcome it.” NSW Farmers Association agricultural and veterinary chemicals committee chair Reg Kidd told the Senate inquiry he expected cost hikes of $2 million to $8 million that could turn into $20 million – to be returned to the farming community, through the compulsory re-registration process. “I think this is another example of another shackle that could be imposed that will stymie that competitiveness that we need to work in those global markets,” he said. In its submission, the Animal Health Alliance said the new Bill added over 200 new pages of legislation for the APVMA to administer – but removes none of the existing legislation. The Veterinary Manufacturers and Distributors Association’s submission said the APVMA had become a barrier to the provision of low-cost products by demanding unnecessary data or a range of common commodities. “We are being strangled by the current regulatory environment,” VMDA said. “This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.” NFF rural affairs manager Dave McKeon said there was a risk of losing chemicals that were still of value to industry through the re-registration process due to lack of financial incentive. He said under a similar re-registration process in the EU, approximately half the products ended up off the market, mostly due to commercial decisions made by the chemical companies not to take those products forward. “In Australia, due to it being a small market, we may even see that sort of issue magnified,” he said. Mr Kidd said Australia represented about 1 to 2pc of the entire world chemical market, “so we fall off the end very quickly”. Mr McKeon said there may also be poor environmental outcomes if some of those products were taken off the market. “One example where that might occur would be, for example, with pre-emergent herbicides,” he said. “It may switch to being economically not viable to undertake a minimum tillage system on a property, so they would move to a tillage based system and you end up with a worse environmental outcome through loss of soil structure, erosion and those sorts of problems.”

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