‘Biggest ag export reform in a generation’

Jon Condon, 06/09/2011


AQIS food division executive manager, Greg Read The Federal Government’s $127 million Export Certification Reform Package (ECRP) will introduce the biggest suite of changes to inspection and certification services for Australia’s agricultural export industries in 20 years, it was claimed yesterday.

Executive manager of the AQIS food division, Greg Read, said the benefits of the package would be realised in the coming months and years as industry incorporated the improved processes and technologies into their business systems.

“These changes provide a strong foundation, securing and improving Australian exporters' market access and positioning Australia's inspection and certification processes at the forefront of export industries worldwide,” Mr Read said.

The introduction of such significant reforms – including new regulatory systems, revised legislation, proactive market access work and modern web-based IT systems – was always going to take time, he said.

“Industry and government are currently working to finalise the new systems to effectively position Australia’s agricultural exporters for the long-term,” Mr Read said.

The reforms consist of new regulatory systems that focus on:

  • rewarding businesses that consistently perform to a high standard
  • new IT systems that support industries, including through better data capture and analysis to support market access
  • increasing flexibility for export businesses through the use of authorised officers and approved auditors to undertake inspection and certification work for some industries.
  • “Industry and government have been working in partnership since 2009 to ensure these reforms will maintain and increase the confidence of importing countries in Australia’s high quality agricultural export sector,” Mr Read said.

Two thirds of the Government’s $127.4m Export Certification Reform Package went towards a temporary rebate that assisted exporters to transition their businesses back to full cost recovery. That rebate ceased on June 30.

The ECRP changes, which apply to a range of export commodities including beef (by far the most heavily affected by earlier abandonment of AQIS funding support), grain, horticulture, dairy and eggs would provide a strong foundation, securing and improving Australian exporters' market access, a DAFF statement said yesterday.

In line with the recommendations of the Beale Review, fees and charges were implemented in 2009 to return the six export industries to full cost recovery.  ECRP funding included $85.3m to support export industries transition to full cost recovery, with a 40pc rebate applied to certification charges up to June 30, when it was dropped.

In the case of red meat exports, the Federal Government announced yesterday (see earlier story “Ludwig launches new AQIS deal”) a new service delivery model for export certification for the export meat industry that would ‘cut red tape, support regional jobs and improve the export meat industry.’

Known as the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS), the new service delivery model is underpinned by a suite of legislative instruments and fees and charges which will be tabled in parliament. AEMIS will commence operations on October 1.

The system would give meat processing businesses greater flexibility in how their staff are deployed when not undertaking export inspection work, reward good performance, and focus regulatory resources on high-risk areas, the DAFF statement said.

The government’s agreement with the meat export industry will include $25.8m in funding to support transition to the new system and return industry to full cost recovery by 2013.
Joint Industry – AQIS Ministerial Taskforces (MTFs) for the dairy, fish, grain, horticulture, live animal and meat export industries have been delivering the reforms.

The red meat export task force was chaired by AMIC’s Gary Burridge.


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