Grains Policy Positions

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Grains Policy Positions

AgForce Grains policy positions are on the following areas:

*policy endorsed by AgForce Grains Board 2018. ^endorsed July 2019.

 

RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND EXTENSION (RD&E)

AgForce Grains supports the transition of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to an Industry Owned Corporation (IOC).

An IOC model would require a prescribed number of grower board directors to be duly elected by levy payers. This would increase the transparency of the GRDC to growers, who would effectively own the GRDC. It would also enable the GRDC to own a larger stake in plant breeding unlike its current structure, which precludes the GRDC from owning a majority share. Further an IOC model would ensure that Intellectual Property (IP) developed with levy payer funds, would remain in the hands of industry not government.

An IOC would also enable the GRDC to have greater control over its reserves which are controlled by the Finance Minister.

AgForce Grains believes that levy payers should hold the majority of GRDC board positions.

With levy payers contributing more than 60 per cent of GRDC income, the direction of the GRDC must reflect the needs of growers. With nine GRDC board positions, there are only two growers currently appointed. AgForce Grains does not consider this adequate grower representation and seeks a minimum of four growers on the GRDC Board.

AgForce Grains supports the current one percent farm gate research levy.

The continued government-industry partnership fostered through the Research and Development Corporations (RDC) is vital to the future of Australia’s grain industry and its research and development efforts must be maintained.

AgForce Grains supports end-point royalties (EPR) providing that there are time limits, price limits, no closed loops, full transparency, grower-to-grower sales and that revenue is re-invested in breeding. Collection needs to be cost-effective and occur at first point of sale.

While supporting EPRs, there is concern over the commercialisation and availability of government or publicly bred grower-funded varieties and the combined grower contribution to research. The structure of the current ERP system is restricting uptake of new varieties. Work must be done to ensure collection rates are high to support regional‑specific breeding in Queensland.

AgForce Grains will advocate for continued government funding for RD&E.

As growers significantly contribute to funding RD&E through levies, AgForce Grains seeks that state and federal governments are equitable in their RD&E contributions relative to grower levies.

AgForce Grains supports a collaborative and coordinated approach to RD&E with all groups that have an interest in driving RD&E objectives in Queensland.

Organisations in Queensland with an interest in grains RD&E must work together towards mutual goals for the betterment of industry. A coordinated approach will minimise duplication and ensure that each organisation is directing their efforts effectively.

 

PROFITABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

AgForce Grains supports the development of new, regional specific cropping options.

AgForce Grains supports the research and development (R&D) of new crops, such as industrial hemp, mustards and new uses for grains such as bioplastics and renewable fuels that provide grain growers new markets and opportunities.

AgForce Grains supports the continued development of sustainable farming systems.

Sustainable farming systems are essential if an acceptable level of production is to be maintained within the bounds of production constraints (social, economic and environmental) in the future. Improved sustainable production systems have increased grain productivity more than another area of research in the past 20 years. Targeted investment into these systems must be maintained so this improvement can continue.

AgForce Grains supports best management practice (BMP) programs that are industry-led and designed to improve productivity, profitability and sustainability. These programs must be user-friendly, easy to use and not increase the red-tape faced by farmers.

BMP programs are generally used to meet a range of environmental targets within reef catchments. Unfortunately, this approach undermines BMP programs that could be used to facilitate industry-wide consistent data collection and benchmarking, while improving productivity, profitability and sustainability.

AgForce Grains seeks to reincorporate industry into the Grains BMP and ensure the program is fit for purpose and achieves its original goals of being a useful tool for industry, not just a tool for government.

Competition in the supply chain is vital to farmers’ future profitability and sustainability.

AgForce Grains believes the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) should not allow organisations in the supply chain to gain significant market power. The results of previous take-over decisions have been detrimental to grain growers, particularly in ensuring supply. As consolidation in grain marketing continues, the ACCC must ensure adequate competition is maintained and that growers are not exploited.

 

OVERSIZED AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY MOVEMENTS

AgForce Grains seeks oversized agricultural machinery reform to reduce the requirements for permits while enabling greater productivity and ensuring safety outcomes.

Regulations must be nationally consistent, risk-based and enable the productivity and profitability of Queensland agriculture. Many rural roads were constructed solely to service the agricultural sector and now farmers are not allowed to move their machinery on them. This must be resolved to ensure farmers can get on with farming.

AgForce Grains supports removing restrictions on moving oversize agricultural machinery on public holidays.

Due to the varied nature of farming operations in Queensland, farmers need to more machinery all throughout the year, including public holidays. To ensure farmers can move machinery when they need to, AgForce Grains will continue to work with the Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) to remove restrictions, especially during Easter and Christmas public holidays.

AgForce Grains will work with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), the Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and local governments to ensure that regulations keep pace with machinery developments.

AgForce Grains will assist road managers in better understanding the requirements of the agricultural industry and size of the current and future fleet, so regulations can keep pace with the on-the-ground practices.

AgForce Grains supports the conditional registration scheme and will work with the Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) to ensure it remains simple and appropriately priced.

The conditional registration scheme provides consistent access for machinery which does not fit other, conventional registration types and generally travels infrequently, travel short distances along roads or simply crossing roads with machinery. Conditional registration includes compulsory third-party insurance and enables this machinery to be move quickly and easily. This is vital as many producers need an easy and legal mechanism to move machinery on the road network.

 

GRAIN MARKETING

AgForce Grains supports a national stocks reporting scheme, which mandates regular stocks reporting from any off-farm grain storages above 5,000 tonnes.

AgForce Grains supports the establishment of a stocks reporting scheme to help improve market signals, reduce information gaps and ultimately increase grower returns.

Stocks reporting will create a more transparent base for marketing decisions by reducing information gaps and improving market signals and improve on-farm decision making, by disclosing what is in the system (supply) compared to what is needed (demand).

This is in line with the Productivity Commission in their 2010 report into Wheat Export Marketing Arrangements, which called for monthly reporting of wheat stocks.

AgForce Grains supports strict controls on any party who monopolises the supply chain or exploits market power.

AgForce Grains supports open information flow, port access regulation and strong market control. AgForce Grains supports the ACCC in ensuring that monopolies do not occur, especially at ports. It is extremely important that exporters who own ports are not able to manipulate the market to the disadvantage of growers or other industry participants.

 

GRAIN QUALITY RECEIVAL STANDARDS

AgForce Grains requires flexible grain delivery standards to ensure the quality and value of harvested grain is maximised for the grower.

Queensland continually faces quality downgrades from wet weather at harvest. To capture the greatest value for their crops, growers need a flexible approach to receival standards.

AgForce Grains seeks an objective, evidence-based approach to setting grain receival standards.

Standards must be based on objective and evidence-based information. If receival standards change, the rationale and underpinning information must be communicated to growers. Receival standards must be achievable and benefit the whole supply chain, not just the trade.

AgForce Grains supports objective quality measurement to govern the payment and receival of grain.

Objective quality measurements must be undertaken in line with pre-determined standards to calculate prices for growers. Objectivity is essential for transparency and to maintain high quality and consistent grain throughout the supply chain.

 

BIOSECURITY

AgForce Grains strongly supports the biosecurity function of the Australian Government Department of Agricultural and Water Resources’ (DAWR) in upholding Australia’s quarantine status.

Our grain quality and quarantine status is vital and AgForce Grains strongly supports relevant agencies in ensuring our reputation is maintained. This can be achieved by thorough quarantine procedures and protocols for imported and exported grains. These protocols will assist in protecting the productivity of our agriculture industries and maintaining export trade statuses and trade relationships.

AgForce Grains is totally opposed to any relaxation of the current tolerance to restricted seed in imported products.

Imports of all types – machinery, manufactured stock feed, fertiliser and whole grain (feed or milling) – must be strictly monitored for the presence of any restricted seeds or other contaminants which could lead to potential incursions.

AgForce Grains supports the grains industry’s involvement and investment in Plant Health Australia (PHA) as it effectively coordinates and manages the risk of pests, diseases, and weeds that affect grains production.

AgForce Grains supports the Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Grains Industry and the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. With the increase in international tourism and trade, the risk of pest incursion is increasing and therefore industry must ensure it undertakes necessary preventative measures and is prepared to respond when incursions occur.

AgForce Grains supports cost-effective mechanism, including cost-recovery, to ensure Australia’s reputation and export quality standards are maintained.

AgForce Grains believes that Australia’s reputation and grain quality standards must be maintained. Cost-recovery, when there is an exclusive benefit to the industry, is an appropriate mechanism although when there is significant public benefit/good, AgForce Grains supports equitable cost-sharing arrangements.

 

BIOTECHNOLOGY

AgForce Grains supports continued research into trialling and testing of individual agricultural products.

The development of biotechnology in plant breeding has the potential to offer significant benefits in production and addressing agronomic difficulties. Ensuring our industry is at the forefront of research and development is critical for Australia to compete internationally.

AgForce Grains supports outcomes-based scientific assessment of gene technologies, genetically modified species and products.

AgForce Grains believes that gene technology is vital to the ongoing success of Australian agriculture and that it delivers huge benefit to the broader Australian economy. The importance of this technology will increase as we strive to build resilience in the face of harsher climatic conditions while remaining globally competitive. Crop technologies must continue to deliver agronomic improvements and environmental benefits to society and our economy.

The regulatory scheme must not impede this essential need for biotechnology but rather help facilitate it. The Scheme must focus its regulatory effort towards the highest risk and similarly, be less interventionist where there is no scientific evidence that there will be adverse impacts on human or environmental health. This will ensure the regulatory costs are minimised and that the developers of technologies are rewarded for lower-risk developments.

AgForce Grains believe certain novel crop breeding technologies should be excluded from the regulations due to the minimal risk they pose.

AgForce Grains supports the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) in ensuring that research trials and commercial releases are undertaken responsibly and strictly contained within the legislated guidelines.

The Gene Technology Regulator is the legislated body to control the release of any genetically modified organism through its oversight of the Gene Technology Act 2000. OGTR assesses each new Genetically Modified (GM) variety ensuring it does not have safety implications for human health and environmental outcomes. These regulatory mechanisms ensure the controlled development and release of genetically modified crops.

AgForce Grains encourages commercial providers and regulators to develop, accredit and release genetically modified varieties for commercial production in Queensland.

Current biotechnology has benefits for farmers, the environment and consumers, but none are available to Queensland grain growers. AgForce Grains encourages the introduction of commercially available cultivars that suit Queensland conditions.

AgForce Grains supports grain growers having access to an affordable choice of the latest research technology that is best suited to their production needs.

The agronomic options available to producer affect their ability to compete in a chosen production environment. It is critical that growers have access to the best production systems suited to their environments. Access through affordable choices of the latest research technology ensures a more uniform distribution of productive advantage within the industry.

AgForce Grains encourages further education and balance in information to the public regarding the uses of gene technology.

Consumer satisfaction and confidence is essential in maintaining, developing, and providing food and fibre to the community. Public knowledge on gene technology is poorly understood and often misleading. Further education and balanced information is vital to ensure consumers have access to a range of views on gene technology.

AgForce Grains supports individual grain growers having the right to maintain their current farming and marketing practices in the event of the release of GM crop varieties for commercial production.

In the event of the release of GM crops for commercial purpose, producers choosing to utilise their traditional or current marketing and production systems should not be negatively impacted regarding supply chain costs or market access.

 

FUELS, ENERGY AND RENEWABLES

AgForce Grains supports solar and other renewables and seeks that where possible, it is not developed on prime agricultural (Class A) land.

AgForce Grains supports renewables and the rights of farmers to use their land for solar or other renewables if they choose. However, as there is only a finite amount of Class A land in Queensland, this land should be primarily used for primary production, where possible.

AgForce Grains seeks greater fuel security and higher fuel stock levels.

Australia is reliant on the importation of fuel and has minimal fuel reserves. This is a significant risk, especially for diesel dependent industries such as agriculture, mining and transport. AgForce Grains seeks great fuel security and higher fuel stock levels.

AgForce Grains supports the fuel tax credits for diesel for off-road use in primary production.

Fuel tax credits recognise that excise is an implicit road user charge introduced to fund public roads. As farmers operate machinery off-road and often on privately funded roads, they should not pay a road tax. Imposing a tax on fuel would add to business costs and create economic distortions by disadvantaging businesses that are reliant on diesel fuel use.

AgForce Grains supports the excise-free status of renewable and alternate fuels and advocates for increased ethanol use in motor spirit.

To help establish a domestic biofuels industry, AgForce Grains will continue to advocate for no increase to a biofuels excise. To increase ethanol usage, AgForce Grains supports the development of ‘flex-fuel’ vehicles capable of safely using ethanol blends of up to E85.

AgForce Grains will pursue the increased use of biofuels in Australia, helping to establish alternatives to finite fossil fuels such as oil.

Regional Queensland can produce and use renewable biofuels and alternate fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG). Investment is needed in regional distribution networks, so fuel can be used where it is produced. Governments should continue to investigate novel use of biofuels, like ethanol and CNG as supplementary fuels for diesel engines.

AgForce Grains supports the development of a domestic renewable fuels industry in Queensland and seeks investment to encourage increase its production and use.

A domestic renewable fuels industry will help ensure sustainable rural communities. Infrastructure should be built in rural areas where grain production occurs, creating local jobs and value-adding opportunities for growers.

Investment into new varieties and crops for feedstocks will allow increased production to support the industry. Renewable fuels can be blended with diesel in most modern diesel engines. Greater incentivises to produce and use renewable fuels are needed, particularly for small scale production on-farm so farmers can become self-reliant in their fuel use. Regulatory certainty and red-tape reduction would assist with this development.

AgForce Grains will promote the use of and benefits of renewable fuels to the community, especially motorists.

Benefits of renewable fuels are considerable including E10 blended fuels having 25 percent cleaner emissions and reduced greenhouse gases; economic benefits to the community such as ‘crude oil import replacement’ and local regional jobs; and, reduced reliance on fossil fuels by using sustainable and renewable energy sources.

AgForce Grains will also work to improve the perception from motorists and other feed grain users.

 

TRAINING, EDUCATION & FARM SAFETY

AgForce Grains supports future training opportunities for grain growers, so they have access to the latest developments in their technical and business operations.

Effective access to the latest developments in business and farming operations is essential for the future success of our members. Most of these developmental opportunities are easily provided through various training options.

AgForce Grains supports grain growers being provided with practical educational programs to assist them in making better cropping and marketing decisions.

The ability of producers to make sound cropping and marketing decisions depends on the amount of information available on meeting market needs. This access to information to allow cropping choices is critical to the profitability of the producer and can also be used as a basic indicator of the ultimate viability, success, and feasibility of a production choice. This, in turn determines the relative sustainability of production.

AgForce Grains supports positive advertising to increase rural awareness to the urban consumer.

AgForce Grains supports ongoing education strategies to address the gap in understanding of rural issues with the urban population.

AgForce Grains supports the promotion of or increase the esteem of rural professionals regarding their capabilities and outlook.

In the past there has been some ill-feeling amongst the general community with regards to farmers. This feeling needs to be dispelled through positive coverage promoting a professional outlook that is proud of our farming industry.

AgForce Grains supports a risk-based approach to Work Place Health and Safety to ensure a safe workplace on farms.

Farms are recognised as an area of risk for workplace accidents. AgForce Grains supports AgForce Training to provide cost-effective and easy to use farm safety systems. Through a system of risk analysis, as outlined in the AgForce Rural Safety Management Manual and Workbook, this issue can be managed. AgForce Grains supports moves to create a culture of self-assessment and improvement to make the farming workplace safer for all involved in agriculture.

 

FOOD SAFETY

AgForce Grains supports continued labelling requirements for farm inputs to ensure that all food safety requirement for our domestic and export markets are met.

Food safety is of high importance in the minds of all consumers, in both domestic and export markets. To maintain a high degree of food safety, growers need clear indication of the ingredients of their farm inputs. Effective truth in labelling addresses the risk to avoid the potential for contamination or excessive residues.

AgForce Grains supports growers paying a levy to the National Residue Survey (NRS) on both domestic and export sales to monitor grains chemical reside free status.

Due to the importance of food safety in market demands, the Australian grains industry has continually proven its clean, safe status through the NRS. A levy paid to provide the NRS is both a safeguard and an information mechanism to reinforce the quality and food safety of Australian grain.

AgForce Grains supports the industry’s voluntary use of a Commodity Vendor Declaration Form for grain sales regarding chemical application and prescribed weeds and weed seeds.

To safeguard sensitive markets and control and reduce the spread of prescribed weeds, it is important to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction and confidence in a given product. The use of a Commodity Vendor Declaration for grain sales is one step towards a more balanced safety network.

 

MINIMISING THE RISK OF OFF-TARGET CHEMICAL MOVEMENT

AgForce Grains strongly believes that grain farmers must adopt best practice strategies and equipment to minimise off-target damage when spraying agricultural chemicals.

To control weeds, diseases and pests and to maximise crop yield and quality, chemical application is a key part of many cropping systems. Good chemical application that stays on the target area is consistent with good farming. It is the responsibility of all grain growers to not damage the environment or the hard work of other farmers that have more susceptible crops like cotton or grapes. Off-target damage from spraying is not acceptable.

AgForce Grains supports the label instructions by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and notes that labels and permits are legally binding.

Grain growers need to abide by the label and follow all instructions such as the requirements to not spray in surface temperature inversion conditions, to operate the right nozzles appropriately, to abide by the mandatory record keeping requirements and to manage downwind mandatory no spray zones. To measure and record conditions, grain growers need to have the right information and the right equipment. If the conditions are wrong, don’t spray.

AgForce Grains encourages all grain growers to use spray log books to record all applications of agvet chemicals regardless of whether the chemical requires mandatory recording. 

Record keeping makes good business sense. This helps to reduce the risk of harvesting crops too early outside of label withholding periods and to avoid applying a chemical above label rate. Record keeping also helps industry to demonstrate leadership in preventing off-target damage when spraying agricultural chemicals.

AgForce Grains believes that it is the responsibility of grain growers to continue their education on agvet chemical application throughout their farming career.

Lifelong learning is a key part of being a farmer – this includes keeping abreast of recent developments in chemical regulation and best practice for chemical application. If grain growers don’t use chemicals properly and stop off-target chemical movement, grain growers may face a raft of restrictions or even loose access.

Grains Policy Positions

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