Senate vote threatens Australia’s agriculture levy system, say stakeholders

Beef Central, 18/08/2014

An alliance of Australian agricultural organisations dependent on levy-based funding say they remain concerned by the threat of political intervention in the national R&D levy system.

“The current system is the envy of the agricultural world,” a statement issued today by the Across Agriculture Group* said.

Members of the group, representing 18 prominent agricultural sector representative bodies, warn that disallowance motions brought by Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, opposing the increases to several horticultural industry levies,have the potential to destroy Australia’s agricultural levy system.

“Senator Leyonhjelm has an ideological opposition to levies in general and has publically stated that his preference is for levies to go entirely,” the group said.

“The Australian agriculture industry,represented by the Across Agriculture Group, is united in its support of the current levy system which provides for Australia’s world-leading research and development,marketing,and plant and animal health systems.”

“While the disallowance motions relate specifically to the onion,mango and mushroom industries on this occasion,the agriculture industry as a whole is deeply concerned about the potential ramifications this dangerous precedent sets for Australian agriculture more broadly,” the group said.

It said the same sentiment had been echoed by Labor’s shadow agriculture minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, who warned that a disallowance of the measures would threaten the viability of the levy system and would set a bad precedent. The Coalition was also opposed to any changes to the system, the Across Agriculture Group said.

“The decision to increase the mango, mushroom and onion levies followed an extensive and comprehensive industry consultation process for all three industries and was the culmination of a five year process that strictly adhered to the Department of Agriculture’s Levy Principles and Guidelines.”

“The proposals to increase each of these levies were instituted by growers who recognised the need to invest in their industries for the benefit of all levy payers. Levies are vital to the continued growth and development of the agriculture industry,” a group spokesman said.

“The levy system underpins the R&D capability, biosecurity capability and marketing capability of the entire agricultural sector in Australia. Overtime, State and Federal Governments have withdrawn funding for agricultural extension services and grower funded levies ensure that investments are still made in the industry, for the benefit of all growers.”

“Although Senator Leyonhjelm is philosophically opposed to levies,we hope he can respect that democratic process that has been followed and the wide-reaching ramifications a disallowance of the regulations will have on all of Australian agriculture.”


* Organisations participating in the Across Agriculture Group (representing producers who pay the levies) include:

  • The Australian Lot Feeders Association
  • WoolProducers
  • National Farmers Federation
  • Australian Pork Limited
  • Australian Dairy Farmers Limited
  • Australian Forest Products Association
  • Sheepmeat Council of Australia
  • Australian Mushroom Growers Association
  • Cotton Australia
  • Rice Growers Association
  • Grain Producers Australia
  • Australian Honey Bee Industry Council
  • Australian Chicken Meat Federation
  • Australian Fodder Industry Association
  • Lucerne Australia
  • National Aquaculture Council
  • DairyConnect
  • Wine Grape Growers Australia.


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  1. John Michelmore, 20/08/2014

    What would be useful here is a reply article from Senator David Leyonhjelm.
    As far as I’m aware David is not seeking to abolish levies, but to obtain democratic accountability to levy payers, a reform that would allow producers in each sector to democratically (based on production) vote in relation to increases, decreases and removal of levies. I can’t believe that the “stakeholders” don’t want democracy and accountability for levy payers. One then has to ask why they don’t want democracy????

  2. Philip Downie, 20/08/2014

    Actually on a lighter note I think the Mushroom growers should be the peak body because all these orgs manage to keep everyone in the dark and feed us B.S.

  3. PAYG, 19/08/2014

    “Members of the group, representing18 prominent agriculture sector representative bodies…………” – all these so-called representative bodies, combined, actually represent less than 10% of all farmers – combined – and they only represent their own inward-looking functionality, modelled on a 19th century notion of collectivism, to gain nothing more than the ultimate position of largess in perpetuity. As more and more ‘independent’ farmers find their voices, these out-dated collectives will have to find a new whipping-boy and sugar-daddy.

  4. Rob Moore, 19/08/2014

    Well said Philip. The senate MUST make all of these rentseeking parasites on the almost deceased producers…….follow the Wool industry model. Levys paid = votes.No levies paid- no say. Every three years we get to vote on the levy amount which includes a zero option.. We democratically settled on 2% This is the only scenario that can be allowed as if we are forced to pay $5 to the MLA much longer there will be a mutiny.
    I approached at least half of that list above to see if they would help support the PPP idea. They dismissed it point blank and refused to even read the research that I had done.Most of them are batting for the other side. I have an email from the Cattle Council of Aust saying that there is “no Merit” in what I am proposing. (that was last October) Solely due to my one man efforts- Matz has written to MLA asking for this latest tender into “Transparency ” blah blah. I have their measure and after 36 years of struggle- if I go down I promise I will out these sellout crews!( This will be my third in a row to get snipped no doubt)

  5. Philip Downie, 19/08/2014

    The question is transparency and accountability both of which are largely missing. Directors, etc are some “old boys” club rotating from place to place and mates and people paying the levies feel totally removed from what is happening with lets face it “their money”. I have seen multiple re submitting of work that was done years ago and orgs that need to be supported even though they have done stuff all for years. This is not helpful to something that does need to happen for the good of Aust Ag but we are being stuffed by people out of touch and on the gravy train. Start again with new people they are out there but you can’t get past you own inbred inner circle.

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