Labor welcomes the release of Grow. Make. Prosper; The Decadal Plan for Australian Agriculture.

The report is the work of the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

As the report points out, it is time to put a greater emphasis on the importance of better communication and collaboration of science, R&D, big data analysis and innovation in the agriculture sector.  

If we are to meet our aspirations in food and fibre production, we’ll need to lift the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Australian agriculture and the report identifies six specific research areas: development and exploitation of genomics, agri-intelligent technologies, big data analysis, sustainable chemistry, coping with climate variability and molecular engineering.

This coordinated and collaborative approach will ensure that we can lift our defence against pests, weeds and diseases, and secure a higher return from our natural, human and capital resources.

But the Government’s rhetoric on agriculture and science no longer stacks up. Its actions speak louder than words.

The relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is point in case where Farmers, chemical companies, the APVMA itself and the Federal Government-commissioned cost benefit analysis have all warned Australia's agricultural productivity will be harmed by the staff shortages because it will take longer to approve new chemicals.

Barnaby Joyce has continually declined to say what degree of declining agricultural productivity he would be prepared to accept in exchange for moving the agency to his northern NSW electorate.

Yet, the evidence provided by key scientific industry and agricultural stakeholders about their real concerns about the loss of expert regulatory scientists during the Senate inquiry into the relocation of the APVMA has again been totally ignored by the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce and Senator Bridget McKenzie. This shows the Government either doesn’t get it or doesn’t care

Taxpayers’ money being wasted on pork barrelling exercises like the APVMA relocation and the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) should be invested in long term strategic initiatives that will strengthen Australian Agriculture.

The Government must hear the call. 

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