Problems with the regulatory system for animal health products are leaving a gaping hole in the Government’s ability to deliver on its proposed National Food Plan, according to Animal Health Alliance Australia.
Chief executive of AHAA, Dr Peter Holdsworth, said the National Food Plan green paper, released last month, provides a framework for a prosperous and sustainable food sector.
“Livestock producers are an integral part of the food production supply chain, and they rely on animal health products and technologies to remain productive and competitive,” he said.
“However, the results of a global survey on animal health product regulators, announced this week, show that Australia’s regulatory system has become so slow and expensive that new products are not being registered in the Australian market, and home-grown R&D is on the decline.”
In just five years, the average time to register a new product in Australia has increased by more than 70 percent, to 2.3 years. Over the same time, the average cost has increased by 36pc – more than anywhere else in the world – to between $33 million and $84, depending on the type of product.
Dr Holdsworth said expenditure on R&D as a percentage of total turnover had declined from 9-10pc in 2006 to 7.7pc last year.
“There are now dozens of products readily available to farmers in New Zealand, the US and Europe that Australian farmers don’t have access to, placing them at significant competitive disadvantage,” he said.
Almost 90pc of respondents to the survey cited Australia’s regulatory framework as a barrier to innovation.
The Federal Government is currently undertaking a series of reviews of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), focussing on its structure and funding. Outcomes of these reviews are expected in the first half of 2013, and are likely to continue over the next few years.
“Current indications are that these changes will be a band-aid rather than the major surgery needed to ensure the long-term well-being of such an important part of our agriculture sector,” Mr Holdsworth said.
“The industry is in agreement with the Government on the importance of a prosperous and sustainable future for the sector. But that relies on the government actually delivering the regulatory reform needed to meet the objectives of its own National Food Plan,” he said.
The International Federation of Animal Health (IFAH) Global Benchmarking Survey Report is available for download via the AHAA website: www.animalhealthalliance.org.au
- The Animal Health Alliance is the voice of the animal health industry in Australia. It represents registrants, manufacturers and formulators of animal health products. The association’s member companies represent 85pc of all animal health product sales in Australia (ex-factory gate). The Alliance manages both Commonwealth and State issues with the objective of ensuring its members can operate within a viable regulatory environment. It also contributes to sustainable industry risk-reduction practices that provide business opportunities to members and add value to the broader Australian community.