National Farmers' Federation

NFF raises concerns over agency relocations

Members of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) have voted against the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) at a meeting in Adelaide today.
The decision follows a proposal by the federal Minister for Agriculture to relocate the APVMA to Armidale or Toowoomba. The proposal also includes plans to relocate the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).
NFF CEO, Simon Talbot, said the long term ramifications of the proposals appear not to have been properly considered.
“Many of the 170 staff at the APVMA are highly technical, specialist regulatory scientists whose expertise cannot be easily replaced if they choose to accept a redundancy package.
“This loss of capacity could add years to approval timeframes which are already failing to meet statutory requirements.
“The farm sector has a lot to lose if new chemical technologies are stuck in the approval process and can’t get to market. The approval pathway is already a disincentive to registrants and Australian farms need equal access to technologies used overseas to compete.
“While we support the concept of decentralisation and supporting jobs in our regions, our main objective has to be improving agricultural productivity. We can’t afford policies which put productivity second to political objectives.
The NFF has also raised concerns about the relocation of RIRDC and the GRDC. Members have insisted that a strong business case be presented before discussions on these agencies progress, and that industry funds be quarantined for their intended purpose rather than syphoned off to implement decentralisation policy.
“Of critical concern to members are the proposed funding model for the relocations – which will rely on industry funds to implement government policy changes.
“We are yet to see sufficient detail to confirm that industry will see a return on that expenditure in the form of research outcomes or access to new chemicals,” Mr Talbot concluded.
The NFF and its members will be working to highlight the risk of these proposals to relevant decision makers in the hope of reaching a compromise that places the needs of agriculture front and centre.

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