Draft report on the Regulation of Australian Agriculture

The Productivity Commission has released a draft report on the Regulation of Australian Agriculture.

In November 2015 the Productivity Commission was asked to review the regulatory burden on farm businesses.

The draft report considers the very broad range of areas in which Australian Agriculture is regulated.  Topics covered include land use and access regulations, environmental regulation, water regulation, regulation of farm animal welfare, genetically modified crops, regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, Biosecurity regulation, transport regulations, food regulation, employing overseas workers, competition policy and foreign investment in Australian agriculture.

The draft report notes that the benefits of foreign investment to Australia’s agricultural sector, including access to new technology, skills, knowledge and global supply chains are acknowledged.  However, there is substantial public concern surrounding foreign investment in the agricultural sector.

In 2015 the Australian Government made a number of changes to the foreign investment review framework for the agricultural sector including significantly lowering the screening thresholds for agribusiness (to $55 million) and agricultural land (to $15 million) for investors from most countries.  The screening threshold for other sectors of the economy is $252 million.

The draft report makes two recommendations in relation to foreign investment in agriculture:

  • The screening thresholds for examination of foreign investments in agricultural land and agribusinesses by FIRB should be increased to $252 million; and
  • Application fees for foreign investment proposals should be set at the level that recovers costs incurred by FIRB in reviewing proposals and should be monitored to ensure no over- or under-recovery of costs.

Submissions on the draft report are invited by 18 August 2016.  Information on how to provide a submission is included on the inquiry website http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/agriculture

Post by John Kell 

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