Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, minus the US, reborn

The TPP, a major trade deal that has been almost a decade in the making has been reborn as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

11 of the original countries involved in the TPP negotiations are set to sign the agreement in Chile, in March. These countries are Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.

The notable exception to the new agreement is the US, which pulled out of the agreement after Donald Trump’s election as President.

“This is a multi-billion-dollar win for Australian jobs. Australian workers, businesses, farmers and consumers will benefit,” Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Trade, Tourism & Investment, Steven Ciobo said in a joint statement.

“The Government took a leadership role and worked hard to deliver the TPP because it will generate more Australian exports and create new Australian jobs.”

“The TPP will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs in a trade zone with a combined GDP of $13.7 trillion. The agreement will deliver 18 new free trade agreements between the TPP parties. For Australia that means new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.”

Significant wins for Australian exporters under the deal include:

  • Accelerated reductions in Japan’s import tariffs on beef, where Australian exports were worth $2 billion in 2015-16 – under TPP-11 even better access.
  • Elimination of a range of cheese tariffs into Japan covering more than $100 million of trade that was not covered by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.
  • New quotas for wheat and rice to Japan, and for sugar into Japan, Canada and Mexico.
  • Elimination of all tariffs on sheep meat, cotton, wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products (manufactured goods).
  • Eleven separate deals – legally enforceable market access to all these countries.
  • Investment sets up strong legally enforceable commitments on the way countries regulate foreign investment.

WA to educate retailers, consumers ahead of plastic bag ban

With Western Australia’s ban on lightweight single-use plastic bags just five months away, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is holding workshops to help people change the way they shop and do business.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson is urging the community to take advantage of the workshops – being held across Perth and regional WA – which are aimed at helping plastic bag suppliers, retailers and consumers prepare for and comply with the ban.

From July 1, retailers can no longer supply lightweight single-use plastic bags to their customers.

In the lead-up to the ban, retailers are being encouraged to stop ordering plastic bags which will be part of the ban, think about alternatives to plastic bags and prepare staff to help customers who are unware of or do not support the ban.

Consumers are encouraged to consider carrying reusable shopping bags, look at alternatives for the single-use plastic bags used around their homes and support retailers and staff upholding the law by not supplying single-use bags.

Workshops will be held across the metropolitan region – Perth, Connolly, Stirling, Armadale, Fremantle, Midland and Mandurah and in regional centres – Karratha, Kalgoorlie, Bunbury, Narrogin, Albany, Geraldton, Broome and Port Hedland.



Minister for Agriculture heads Leadership Dialogue with India

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, will lead the Australian delegation participating in the Australia India Leadership Dialogue in Delhi this month.

Littleproud said he was thrilled to have the opportunity to help expand the prosperous trade and investment relationship shared by the two nations.

“Two-way trade in goods and services with India is now worth more than $20 billion,”  Littleproud said.

“Two-way investment has risen from $3 billion in 2006 to $23.9 billion in 2016. Our growing trade and investment shows the strength of Australia’s partnership with India, which holds powerful opportunities for both nations in the future.”

During his visit Littleproud also looks forward to his first meeting with his counterpart, the Indian Hon. Minister of State, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ms Krishna Raj.

“Agriculture is such a vital part of our bilateral relationship, with many common interests and challenges, which we can work together on to benefit both our countries. This includes working to strengthen our agricultural trade, and constructively discussing bilateral difficulties,” Littleproud said.

Minister Littleproud said the Australia India Leadership Dialogue would help strengthen overall economic ties between the two countries, and boost cooperation across key sectors such as knowledge, health and water resources.

“The Dialogue brings together high-level delegates from both India and Australia’s government, business and civil society,” Littleproud said.

“With India already the world’s seventh largest economy and set to remain the fastest growing major economy for the foreseeable future – at around 7 per cent per annum ¬– it is vital that Australia understands the requirements for sustained Indian growth—and works to complement them.

“Countries like India and Australia—open to the world, healthy democracies with cohesive societies and strong economies—have the adaptability and global connections for international success.

“That is why we place such a high value on our relationship India: better economic cooperation will drive prosperity in both nations.”

Littleproud is leading the Australian delegation to India for the Australia India Leadership Dialogue from Sunday 21 January to Tuesday 23 January 2018.​

Govt says Canada treating Aussie wine unfairly

The Turnbull Coalition Government has initiated formal World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement action against what it claims are Canada’s discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine.

Australia has taken the first step in commencing formal consultations with Canada regarding measures Australia believes impose arbitrary and disadvantageous restrictions on the sale of imported wine in Canadian grocery stores, inconsistent with Canada’s WTO obligations.

This step responds to concerns from the Australian wine industry regarding the Canadian measures, which negatively impact trade with Australia’s fourth largest export market for wine, currently valued at $185 million.

Australia strongly supports the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its heart. One of the key strengths of the WTO is its disputes system, which ensures WTO Members comply fully with their commitments.

While it would have been preferable to resolve this issue bilaterally, it is appropriate to commence dispute proceedings given the lack of progress.

Australia last initiated formal WTO action in 2003.

Committee appointed to review livestock exports

​An expert Technical Advisory Committee has been appointed to review the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).

Deputy Secretary at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Malcolm Thompson, said the ASEL was critical to the export of Australian livestock.

“We want to maintain Australia’s reputation as a world leader in animal welfare standards and as an ethical and reliable trading partner for quality protein,” Mr Thompson said.

“The ASEL standards have underpinned very strong animal welfare outcomes, with the mortality rate for Australian livestock exported by sea on a downward trend since 2006.

“This committee will work closely with a Reference Group of key stakeholders, including Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, the RSPCA, livestock producer bodies and the Australian Veterinary Association to ensure the standards consider livestock industry innovation and development, along with the latest animal health and welfare research.

“We have representation on the committee across different facets of the trade, with an independent chair, two animal welfare experts—including a current researcher and an eminent veterinarian—a regulatory design specialist and a livestock industry expert.

“This will ensure we have skills and expertise on modern animal welfare and livestock management practices and research, along with a commitment to best practice regulation to deliver clearer and simpler standards.

The members of the Technical Advisory Committee are:

Dr Chris Back – Chair

Dr Teresa Collins – Animal Health and Welfare Expert

Dr Hugh Millar – Animal Health and Welfare Expert

Mr Russell Phillips – Regulation Specialist

Mr Kevin Shiell – Livestock Export Industry Expert.

Committee members are appointed for two years and will commence their work immediately, with public consultation to start in early 2018.

Littleproud to visit India to discuss agricultural tariffs

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, will visit India, where he will make representations to the Indian Government around tariffs on chickpeas and lentils.

Tariffs on Australian chickpeas and lentils entering India from Australia were raised without notice from 0 to 30 per cent, with immediate effect, on December 21.

Speaking from the GrainCorp terminal in Geelong this afternoon as part of his first Victorian visit as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Minister Littleproud said he’d take the concerns of Australian growers to the Indian Government.

“Australia hugely appreciates its good relationship with India,” Minister Littleproud said.

“India is the world’s second largest population and is our fifth-largest export market, worth $3.1 billion in agriculture exports in 2016-17. India takes $1.1 billion worth of our chickpeas and another $195 million worth of our lentils.

“Whist we recognise India is within its rights under the WTO to raise its tariffs, it makes life extremely tough for farmers when the returns change after a crop is planted.

“Growers need certainty to make decisions which affect their lives.”

Minister Littleproud said he aimed to build on the good work of Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo.

Pulses Australia estimates 83,000 tonnes of chickpeas worth $58 million is currently at sea destined for India.​

Xenophon wants to save orangutans with palm oil labelling

The leader of the Nick Xenophon Political Team is demanding that today’s Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Melbourne take urgent steps toward mandatory Palm Oil labelling in Australia.

Mr. Xenophon says palm oil is dangerous to our health, devastating for the planet and fatal for orangutans.

“Australians consume 10 kilos of palm oil every year and just don’t know it. These laws will give consumers the knowledge they need to make an informed choice at the supermarket checkout,” he said.

“Consumers have a right to know for health reasons and for environmental reasons whether the foods they eat or the products they buy contain palm oil.”

“This is not breaking new ground. Mandatory labelling is happening in the EU, in America and in Canada and the results have led to changes in consumer behaviour and new solutions from ingredients to policies,” he said.

Nick Xenophon introduced legislation in 2011 to mandate the labelling of palm oil following the receipt of a petition of more than 100,000 signatures calling for clearer labelling of palm oil, given its environmental and health impacts.

He also convinced the Federal Coalition to support labelling of palm oil in all Australian foods, and the legislation was passed in the Senate but stalled in the Lower House. NXT continues to fight for the legislation to be passed and continues to negotiate with the Government and Opposition.

Founder of Australia’s Orangutan Alliance and responsible food system advocate Maria Abadilla is dedicated to saving Borneo’s Orangutans and finding new solutions to the palm oil debate.

Maria vividly recalls choking on acrid black smoke during rainforest burn-offs and it was in that moment, that she decided to take action.

“We hear the arguments that the cost of adoption for the industry will be massive, but what is the cost of the planet? There are different ways you can implement mandatory labeling,” she said.

“This one issue brings together health concerns, human rights, climate change and animal rights. We understand it’s a complex issue but unfortunately, it’s also an ecological emergency. The time has come to introduce mandatory labelling. Australian consumers deserve to have a choice and for different industries to respond with new solutions and policies.”

Ms. Abadilla predicts palm oil free labelling will spark the creation of new food manufacturing crops, techniques and industries.

During her visit to Australia earlier this year, Dr. Jane Goodall spoke about the need for mandatory labelling of palm oil and what the Jane Goodall Institute Australia (JGIA) is doing about the problem.

Nancy Moloney, CEO of JGIA says families deserve choice.

“Preventing the destruction of forests where orangutans and other species live is something that all Australians can act upon simply by insisting on labelling products that contain palm oil.”

Palm Oil Investigations Lorinda Jane says Orangutans are facing complete extinction.

“Palm oil production could completely kill off all wild Orangutans in just 10 years,” she said.

The demand for palm oil by globally is rapidly destroying Orangutan habitats in Indonesia and Malaysia.  If we don’t put a stop to this soon we will witness the extinction of these extraordinary primates in a matter of years.

New agreement for NSW wine sector

As part of the 2017 NSW Wine Awards celebration, a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Government has been announced, signaling a positive step forward for the state’s wine industry.

The MoU has been signed by Tom Ward (pictured, right), President of the NSW Wine Industry Association, Minister Niall Blair MLC (pictured, left), Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water and Minister for Trade and Industry, and Minister Adam Marshall MP, Minister for Tourism and Major events and Assistant Minister for Skills.

Tom Ward says, “This document represents much hard work done behind the scenes and a much closer working relationship between us and the government. It is vital for an industry that not only provides regional communities with sustainable employment and boosts their economic activity but also contributes $1.6 billion to the total NSW economy and plays an important role in our state’s $38 billion tourism sector.”

Minister Blair said, “This Government knows the value of the wine industry to our state, and especially to the regional communities it supports.

“We’ve signed this MoU to ensure the NSW wine industry is in the best possible position to capitalise on trade opportunities, tourism initiatives and research and development, while growing at home and abroad.”

Under this MoU, and in partnership with industry, the NSW Government will undertake to focus on the areas of export markets development, regional wine tourism, and research and innovation.

This includes helping NSW wineries maximise the opportunities outlined in the recent Export and Regional Wine Support Package (ERWSP) announced by the federal government, finalising and releasing the NSW Food and Wine Tourism Strategy and Action Plan (2020) as soon as possible, and improving support for and promotion of inbound visitation across regional NSW, including visitation of wine regions and cellar doors.

The commitments in this MoU also cover using and promoting NSW wines at NSW Government functions and venues and showcasing NSW wine during any overseas Ministerial trade missions.

Finally, the MoU stipulates ongoing high level meetings between government and wine industry every six months at a minimum. Both the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Government are committed to action the new MoU and continue to create programs and opportunities that will contribute to a strong, profitable and growing wine industry.

Adelaide to receive funding for grains research​

New grain research facilities worth more than $1.1 million will be established at the University of Adelaide Waite campus, to boost Australian grains research into improving drought and heat tolerance.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the funding was another important measure supporting the productivity and profitability of Australia’s grain industries through the development of more drought-resistant crops.

“The Coalition Government, recently identified as the largest public contributor to rural Research and Development funding in Australia, is committed to ensuring our investments provide practical benefits for our farmers and agriculture industries,” Minister Joyce said.

“The University of Adelaide’s new infrastructure will include two new controlled environment growth rooms (CERs) and LED lighting in their glasshouses and the two CERs.

“The controlled environments will facilitate simultaneous drought and heat experiments designed to improve the combined drought and heat tolerance of grain crops and improve crop yields, with an industry-wide impact.”

Member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, said the funding was a significant boost for Australia’s grains research capacity.

“The University of Adelaide’s Waite campus continues to play an important part in the ongoing research that supports improvements for the Australian grains industry,” Ms Flint said.

“We are proud of what the university has already achieved and I am excited by the prospect of what this funding will deliver for Australia’s grains industry going forward.”

The project is jointly funded by the Coalition Government and growers, through levies and matching contributions.

Spirits sector welcomes lifting of drinks restrictions for small bars

The spirits industry has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement to remove the current restrictions on small bars in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross from serving neat spirits and cocktails not listed on bar menus after midnight.

This decision means that from this Sunday, 1 October, Sydneysiders and visitors will be able to enjoy their favourite drinks exactly how they like them in some of the world’s best bars after midnight.

Sydney’s small bars have always had strong compliance and safety records. The move to lift spirits restrictions from these venues that contribute significantly to Sydney’s night time economy has been supported by major spirits producers, bartenders, small bar operators and craft distillers alike:

David Smith, Managing Director of Diageo Australia and Chair of Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia said, “We’ve been seeing cultural change in the way Australians consume alcohol for some time now. A rising premiumisation trend and consumers choosing to drink better rather than more has seen them embrace cocktail culture.

“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction for much needed liquor reform and equal treatment of spirits in line with wine and beer. A patron who wants to sip on a neat serve of a wonderful whisky or bourbon, or enjoy a fantastically crafted cocktail, will again be able to order it after midnight in their favourite small bar – just like they can order a schooner of beer or a glass of wine.”

Martin O’Sullivan, Chair of the Small Bars Association and owner of Grasshopper Bar, said, “This is an important step and we welcome the NSW Government’s announcement. Small bars are revolutionising the way people drink, creating a more sophisticated setting for people who want to unwind. Some of the best small bars in the world are here in Sydney.

It never made sense in a global city like this to explain to a customer they could only have a nip of whisky past midnight if I mixed it with coke. Small bars specialise in premium spirits, so these changes will help our industry grow and contribute to a vibrant but safe night-time economy.”


Sweeter deal for Australian sugar exports to Indonesia

Indonesia has implemented its earlier agreement to reduce tariffs on the import of Australian raw sugar, strengthening opportunities for Australia’s $2.2 billion sugar export industry.

In February 2017, Prime Minister Turnbull and Indonesian President Widodo reached agreement to each reduce tariffs on a key commodity as a mark of progress towards the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) currently under negotiation.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the reduction in tariffs would increase the competiveness of Australian sugar exports into the important Indonesian market.

“Indonesia will lower the tariff on our sugar exports to the same concessional rate enjoyed by Thailand – around 5 per cent currently – which will level the playing field for our exporters,” Minister Joyce said.

“This is great news for our sugar industry, but it also demonstrates the strong trade relationship we share with Indonesia.

“It will ensure better returns for our exporters through improved market access, while also ensuring Indonesia can continue to have access to the world-class produce we are known for.”

Indonesia will reduce tariffs on the import of Australian raw sugar and Australia will eliminate import duties on Indonesian herbicides and pesticides.

Simplifying agricultural export legislation to improve trade​

Exporters in new and emerging industries and those in established ones will benefit from simplified agricultural export legislation, now released for public consultation, making the regulations easier to follow to save exporters time and money.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the Coalition Government was cutting red tape to improve trade, create more efficient export procedures, and limit the costs of doing business and to ensure agricultural goods aren’t delayed for export.

“While the existing legislation has worked well for 35 years, input to a review undertaken by the Coalition Government showed there is scope for it to be modernised to enable exporters to seize future opportunities,” Minister Joyce said.

“The new export legislation will consolidate the existing web of regulation into a single Export Control Bill and supporting delegated legislation.

“We’re aiming to make the rules for exporting easier to understand, use and comply with, while maintaining the level of regulatory oversight expected by our trading partners.”

Australian Alpaca Association President, Ian Frith, said the simplified export legislation will provide an important boost to producers in new and emerging industries.

“By making the rules and requirements easier to follow new and emerging industries, such as those in the alpaca industry, will have increased confidence to pursue new, and potentially highly lucrative, export opportunities,” Mr Frith said.

John Langbridge, Industry and Corporate Affairs Manager at Teys Australia, Australia’s second largest meat processor and exporter, said the legislation must be flexible and responsive to change in market access requirements.

“The legislation must enable the rapid uptake of approved emerging technologies, such as the use of robotics, x-ray, ultra sound, hyperspectral imaging, thermal imaging and barcoding, to grow and support meat exports in the future,” Mr Langbridge said.

The consultation period on the exposure draft runs for 60 days.

The improved legislation will be implemented around 1 April 2020, when much of the existing framework is due to expire.

WA hits out at Canberra after missing out on agricultural funding

The Western Australian Government has claimed more than 1,500 of the state’s workers will miss out on long-term jobs after the Federal Coalition Government declined the State’s funding application for two important irrigation projects from the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

According to the WA government, the two projects were the Myalup-Wellington project and the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme.

It is understood in the statement that in June 2017, the state government wrote to Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce to confirm it would commit $56 million for the two projects to secure a sustainable water supply for growers and support agricultural jobs in WA’s South-West.

Each project had committed funding from the private sector and the State Government’s commitment was subject to the Federal Government funding.

The state government reiterated in it’s statement that it’s financial commitment to the projects remains the same and the WA continues to be committed to securing funding from the Federal Government.

“This is yet another snub to Western Australian taxpayers from the Federal Coalition Government,” said WA Water Minister David Kelly.

“Yesterday’s decision by the Federal Government means more than 1,500 Western Australians have missed out on long-term jobs.

“I am incredibly disappointed by the Federal Government’s decision.  After all, it was the previous Western Australian Liberal National government that made a pitch for Federal funding in the first place,” said Kelly.

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said, “This is extremely disappointing for growers in the South-West:  we prioritised these projects in our review of Royalties for Regions because they were job creators for the region.

“We have a realistic goal to double the value of our horticultural output in WA but we need real investment from the Federal Government to be able to reach that potential and create new jobs across regional WA.”

Senate Dairy Report is spot on says Dairy Connect

Advocacy group Dairy Connect has thrown its weight behind the findings of the Senate Standing Committees on Economics inquiry into the Dairy Industry presented in Parliament tonight.

A total of 12 recommendations arising from the far-reaching review were tabled as part of the Senate package.

CEO Shaughn Morgan said today the Senate recommendations were largely in line with a written Dairy Connect submission provided last November and face-to-face evidence given to the to the review by Graham Forbes, President, Dairy Connect Farmers Group in Brisbane earlier this year.

The Senate inquiry into the Australian dairy industry began following dramatic cuts to farm gate milk prices by processors Murray Goulburn Co-Op and Fonterra.

The subsequent clawback of money previously paid to farmers gave rise to a strident debate about contractual fairness in the industry.

The Senate review has been running parallel to a second inquiry being undertaken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which is due to hand its report to the Federal Treasurer in November.

Recommendations from the Senate review today included asking the ACCC to reflect on how effectively the recently released Australian Dairy Industry Council’s voluntary Dairy Industry Code of Practice would address power imbalances between milk producers and milk processors.

“The Senate Committee also asked that the ACCC consider how collective bargaining by dairy farmers could be strengthened,” Shaughn Morgan said.

“The Senate report has also recommended that any review of the voluntary Code for contractual relationships be conducted independently.”

“Further the report puts forward that industry organisations should team up with retailers to develop an ‘education campaign’ to promote awareness of the industry value chain so consumers were empowered to make more informed purchase decisions.”

Shaughn Morgan said careful consideration should also be given to the Senate recommendation that dairy processors set opening milk prices ‘conservatively’.

“This may help avoid the damaging price step-downs by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra that impacted dramatically on family farmers and entire regional & rural communities during the past 15 months,” he said.

“Importantly, it was recommended that the ACCC address the challenge of unfair contract terms and advise whether short form milk supply contracts fell within the scope of the law relating to unfair contract terms.

“We support the recommendation that the government prioritise action to slash red tape for cooperatives and establish programs to facilitate the establishment of new cooperatives.

Dairy Connect remains supportive of the important and vital role that Dairy Australia provides to the dairy sector in RD&E.

Senators Jacqui Lamble and Nick Xenophon co-sponsored the motion to form the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry, with the support of the Government and Opposition, in October last year in response to the cuts made by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra to farm gate milk prices in April.



Assistance for retrenched Murray Goulburn Workers

The Victorian Government is supporting retrenched dairy workers in the Indigo and Campaspe Shires affected by Murray Goulburn’s down-sizing.

Following recent discussions with impacted workers, Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaala Pulford has announced $50,000 for each council to undertake community economic development planning.

The Government will also allocate $80,000 to allow the Victorian Planning Authority to develop a structure plan for the township of Tangambalanga.

The plan will be developed in close partnership with the community and will set out a clear direction for growth and development, boosting local job prospects and the economy.

The planning will identify priority actions to help manage the economic impacts of the facility closures, and develop investment attraction strategies to grow the local economy.

The Government will also extend the Rural Skills Connect Program by 12 months in the Murray Dairy region to support the community working groups of Tangambalanga (Kiewa) and Rochester.

These measures are a direct response to requests from the Indigo and Campaspe Shires, who are suffering from the staged closures of the Murray Goulburn manufacturing factories.

In addition to initiatives announced today, the Labor Government continues to support impacted dairy workers with its comprehensive $18 million dairy support package with industry.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaala Pulford

“We know that workers and their families are facing challenging times and we will support these dairy communities right across the supply chain,” said Pulford.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure these communities have a successful and viable future.”


WA Crop Research Hub to receive $3m to boost grains industry

Australian grain industries will benefit from a $3 million grant to create a new Crop Research Hub in Western Australia, charged with improving grain crop productivity and disease resistance Australia wide.

​Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said Murdoch University had received a $3 million Grains Industry Infrastructure Grant to establish the WA Crop Research Hub under a collaboration between Murdoch University, Curtin University and the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

“The Coalition Government knows how critical research and development (R&D) is to productive and profitable industries and that’s why this government is investing unprecedented amounts under various programmes in to R&D,” Minister Joyce said.

“This innovative project will draw on the specialist research skills from each party to develop new research in crop pathology, plant physiology and genetic improvement.

“The outcomes of this research will be applied to improve crop productivity and resistance to disease, strengthening the national grain industry and profitability for Australian grain growers.

GRDC Chairman Mr John Woods said for the GRDC to deliver on its purpose of investing in RD&E to create enduring profitability for Australian grain growers it was essential for research partners to have the critical capacity they required.

“Our RD&E partners need good infrastructure and the right tools to deliver for the grains industry,” Mr Woods said.

“For the first time GRDC has gone out nationally to support our research partners in creating critical capacity and capability to deliver greater profitability for growers. This is essential to ensure a sustainable grains industry to underpin strong rural communities and a healthy economy.

Murdoch University’s $3 million grant will be coupled with a co-contribution of $2 million by the project partners.

This collaboration is part of the Grains Industry Infrastructure Grants programme, administered by the Grains Research and Development Corporation, with 15 recipients sharing in $15 million in competitive grants.

Funding boost for Grains Centre of Excellence

The Victorian Government is strengthening Wimmera Southern Mallee’s leadership in grains innovation with new funding to advance the region’s competitive advantage in agri-science.

Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford has announced $250,000 towards developing a business case for a Networked Grains Centre of Excellence to build on its industry networks.

Ms Pulford said the grains industry in the Wimmera Southern Mallee has a proud history of government and industry partnerships in grains innovation.

The Networked Grains Centre of Excellence will be a virtual centre with a focal point located at the Grains Innovation Park (GIP) in Horsham.

GIP was established as a partnership between the Victorian Government and industry in 1960. It provides the local grains industry with access to technology and expertise to support innovation.

The Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership identified the Networked Grains Centre of Excellence as a priority in 2016, and the Labor Government provided funding in the 2017/2018 Victorian Budget.

Enhancing the Centre’s strategic partnerships with a new business model will create an opportunity to attract innovative enterprises and investment into the grains sector, and grow the reputation of Horsham as an internationally recognised innovation centre.

The announcement today follows last week’s joint funding deal with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Labor Government for a renewed five year, $52 million research agreement.

Regional Development Victoria and Agriculture Victoria have worked closely with the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership on the terms of reference for a working group to progress the project. The working group will convene in late August.

“Last year’s Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership identified the Networked Grains Centre of Excellence as a priority – we’ve listened and now we’ve delivered,” said Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford.


Egg producer penalised $750,000 for misleading ‘free range’ claims

The Federal Court has ordered Snowdale Holdings Pty Ltd (Snowdale) to pay penalties totalling  $750,000 for making false or misleading representations that its eggs were ‘free range’, in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

“This is the highest penalty that a Court has ordered in relation to misleading ‘free range’ egg claims. It reflects the seriousness of Snowdale’s conduct and the importance of egg producers being truthful about marketing claims they make,” ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh said.

“Consumers pay a higher price for free range eggs, so when a ‘free range’ claim is made, it’s important that consumers are purchasing eggs laid by chickens in free range conditions.”

“Farmers who have invested in changes to their farming practices so they can make valid credence claims such as ‘free range’ also need protection from others making false credence claims,” Mr Keogh said.

Snowdale supplied eggs labelled as ‘free range’ in Western Australia under brands including Eggs by Ellah, Swan Valley Free Range and Wanneroo Free Range. Snowdale also promoted its eggs as ‘free range’ on the Eggs by Ellah website from May 2013.

In May 2016 the Federal Court found that Snowdale’s labelling of its eggs as ‘free range’ between April 2011 and December 2013 was misleading or deceptive, and amounted to false or misleading representations. The Court found that most of the hens from Snowdale’s sheds did not go outside as the farming conditions significantly inhibited them from doing so. These conditions included the number of pop holes, the number of birds per metre of pop hole, the flock size inside the shed and the shed size.

The Court has also made an order preventing Snowdale from using the words ’free range’ in connection with its eggs unless the eggs are produced by hens that are able to go outside on ordinary days, and most of which actually go outside on most days.

Snowdale was also ordered to implement a consumer law compliance program and pay a contribution towards the ACCC’s costs.

ACCC urges Horticulture Industry to comply with code

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is putting growers and traders in the horticulture industry on notice that they need to take steps to comply with the 2017 Horticulture Code of Conduct, or face penalties and fines.

Addressing the 2017 NSW Farmers Horticulture Forum today, ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh called on growers and traders to familiarise themselves with the Code and to ensure their businesses are compliant.

Since the revised Horticulture Code was introduced on 1 April 2017, the ACCC has worked with industry associations to educate growers and traders about their rights and obligations. The next stage of the ACCC’s work in relation to the Code will be to begin compliance audits.

“Later this year the ACCC plans to use its investigative powers to check the industry’s level of compliance with the Horticulture Code. If Code breaches are detected, the ACCC may take enforcement action,” Keogh said.

“The Code is designed to offer new protections for growers and traders. We want the horticultural industry to understand that breaching the Code could mean facing an infringement notice or court action.”

Mr Keogh said Courts could impose penalties of up to $63,000 for serious breaches of certain sections of the Code. For other smaller breaches, the ACCC can issue infringement notices to the value of $10,500 for body corporates and $2,100 for individuals.

“The revised Code aims to address much of the commercial uncertainty that has existed for many years in these markets, and which numerous inquiries and reports have identified,” Keogh said.

“While the ACCC will continue to educate the industry about the revised Code, businesses are now on notice that ensuring compliance with industry codes, including the Horticulture Code, is a priority for the ACCC.”

NSW Dairy Fund applications to fire up innovation

Industry advocacy group Dairy Connect has called on farmers, academics, industry stakeholders and research institutions to take advantage of innovation project funding available in this year’s NSW Government Dairy Industry Fund.

CEO Shaughn Morgan said today that a new round of funding will open on 18 July with up to $700,000 available to support projects and initiatives that will contribute to dairy industry growth, profitability, sustainability and resilience.

“Innovation is critical to future success across a broad spectrum of dairy industry activity up and down the value chain,” he said.

“We support the fund and urge critical stakeholders and agencies to prepare submissions for R&D funding.”

Funding applications are open to individuals, universities, research organisations, consultants, not-for-profit organisations, state and local government, farmers and community groups – joint applications showing collaboration are encouraged.

NSW Department of Primary Industries Deputy Director General, Michael Bullen, said the $1 million fund has a track record in supporting successful projects.

“This round offers $700,000 for project proposals which are aligned with the strategies developed in the NSW Dairy Industry Strategic Action Plan,” Bullen said.

“The industry aims to grow markets for NSW milk, build industry confidence, support strategic farm business transition and improve farm productivity.

“This is a significant opportunity to boost the value of NSW’s dairy industry, which produces more than one billion litres of milk and contributes $584 million to the state’s economy each year.”

Applicants should first submit a brief preliminary project proposal, which will be assessed by the Dairy Industry Fund Steering Committee, representing the three Dairy Australia Regional Development Programs, Dairy NSW, Murray Dairy and Subtropical Dairy, and the two farmer advocacy bodies, Dairy Connect and NSW Farmers Dairy Committee.

Successful applicants will be invited to prepare a full project proposal and have the opportunity to present a summary to the Dairy Industry Fund Advisory Committee for feedback prior to their final submission.

Preference will be given to projects which demonstrate significant scale to the benefits they would bring to the NSW dairy industry.

Mr Bullen said Project 20:20 Pathways to Change, was a good example of a successful project showcasing the feed-base, people, business, natural resource management and herd performance of best practice farms across the state.

“Detailed guidelines outline the application process and the types of projects which are eligible for funding,” he said.

Applications are open from 18 July until 18 August 2017.