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Australian horticulture export body says proposed cost rises will be unmanageable for farmers

Australia's peak horticulture export body has called on the Federal Government to reconsider plans to increase the costs of export certification services.

Eleven industry signatories, comprising key industry representative bodies from exporting horticultural industries and members of the Department’s Horticulture Export Industry Consultative Committee were united to oppose the substantial increases to export certification in a joint submission to the Department of Agriculture (DoA). The Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association (AHEIA) has united with other horticultural industry bodies to oppose these changes.

"The cost increases, of over 40 per cent for export certification services which are proposed by the Department of Agriculture in the Cost Recovery Implementation Statement Plant Exports Certification 2019-20 (CRIS), are unmanageable for the horticulture industries," AHEIA CEO Andréa Magiafoglou said. "Australian horticulture is one of the least subsidised in the OECD and horticultural exporters operate in a high-cost environment influenced by labour challenges, escalating water costs and supply chain pathways overlaid by security requirements."

The changes follow public consultation with industry that closed on 31 January 2020, but Ms Magiafoglou says it comes at a time where farmers and exporters are also facing the challenges of ongoing drought and bushfires impacting key production areas.

"The proposed changes will increase the cost of compliance by over 40 per cent and will critically impact Australia’s competitiveness and reduce export growth," she said. "We call upon the Minister for Agriculture to support the horticulture industry by not proceeding with the proposed increases to export certification. "The AHEIA understands the need for export certification requirements, as well as the need to fund the biosecurity framework to protect Australia’s borders. The AHEIA also recognises the need for the government to recover the cost of delivering these services – as long as they can be provided efficiently and charged at competitive rates."

She added: "The DoA currently recovers 48 per cent of its budget from Australian farmers and exporters which is excessive and inconsistent with other similar departments in Australia and internationally – Austrade recovers 10 per cent of its $245 million budget; the Department of Industry, Innovation & Science recovers 15 per cent of a total $508 million; and the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries recovers only 29 per cent of its total NZ$715 million budget."

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment told FreshPlaza it is reviewing cost recovery arrangements for food and plant export certification, to ensure export certification services are sustainably funded.

"It also supports Australia’s reputation as a safe, reliable supplier of high-quality food and plant products," a departmental spokesperson said. "Export fees and charges have not been revised since 2015. Biosecurity and export certification fees and charges must be adjusted to address the actual cost of delivering regulatory activities. This will ensure the exports certification system remains fit for purpose and able to support Australia’s agricultural exports."

Among the recommendations, the AHEIA has called on the Minister for Agriculture to not proceed with implementing the proposed increase in the fees and levies in the Cost Recovery Implementation Statement Plant Exports Certification 2019-20, and the Commonwealth budget allocation be increased to ensure that sufficient funding is provided to support policy development for the agriculture sector in the future.

"DoA must separate all policy functions from cost recovery to ensure integrity in the development of policy, the appropriate allocation of policy resources to Government priorities and removal of the cost on the industry for policy development," Ms Magiafoglou said. "Industry is calling on the Commonwealth Government budget allocation to reflect the Prime Minister’s stated objective of agriculture becoming a $100 billion industry by 2030, and ensure that sufficient funding is provided to support the policy development for the agriculture sector. Implementing the proposed cost recovery model now will pre-empt the Government’s agriculture strategy and limit the future growth of Australian agriculture."

For more information
Andréa Magiafoglou
Australian Horticultural Exporters and Importers Association
admin@horticulturetrade.com.au
www.horticulturetrade.com.au

Publication date: Mon 24 Feb 2020

Author: Matt Russell
© FreshPlaza.com

Fruit, vegetable and nut industry reject proposed hikes to export fees

Australian fresh produce exporters say proposed new export fees would “cripple” the growth of Australia’s fruit, vegetable and nut exports.

AUSTRALIA’S fresh produce industry has rejected a revamped Federal Government program overseeing export fees and charges, warning price hikes of more than 40 per cent for some services would render Australian produce globally uncompetitive.
The nation’s notoriously fragmented horticulture industry has made a united call for the Department of Agriculture to scrap its two proposed options for export fees and charges that would see the Department recover almost half of its entire annual budget from Australian farmers and exporters.
The Department of Agriculture has been working on a revised cost-recovery model for export certification services since 2015 after operating at a deficit for a number of years.
The latest iteration released last month proposes two models that would each raise $12.2 million from levies and fees-for-services, with fee hikes of 44-277 per cent.
The amount raised covers a wider cost base than the current model, with an additional $1.53 million included to fund new enforcement activities, scientific and technical advice and an overseas counsellor network.
AusVeg public affairs manager Tyson Cattle described both options as “unmanageable for the vegetable and horticultural industries”.
“We understand the need for export certification requirements, as well as the need to fund the biosecurity framework to protect Australia’s borders … as long as they can be provided efficiently and charged at competitive rates,” Mr Cattle said. “The difficult conditions faced by the horticulture industry currently, including the worst drought in decades, and bushfires affecting production regions and freight of produce to market, make these cost increases especially hard for growers to absorb and remain competitive.”
Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association’s chief executive Andrea Magiafoglou said cost recovery in agriculture has extended beyond fee for service into cost recovery for policy development.
“Australian horticulture is one of the least subsidised in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and horticultural exporters operate in a high-cost environment influenced by labour challenges, escalating water costs and supply chain pathways overlaid by security requirements,” Ms Magiafoglou said.
An Agriculture Department spokesman said fees and export arrangements needed to increase to cover the cost of delivering regulatory activities.

Source: LEXANDRA LASKIE, The Weekly Times
February 12, 2020

Australian horticulture exports to China expected to take a hit

Australian fruit exports to China are predicted to take a hit as fears of coronavirus’ spread reduce flights and stymie Chinese trade.

AUSTRALIAN horticulture exporters are bracing for a hit to trade as fears of novel coronavirus’ spread slow orders from Chinese importers as cities there close down and shoppers stay home.

The fallout from the rapidly spreading virus is predicted to hit exporters who sell to Australia’s biggest trading partner in coming weeks.

Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association chief executive Andrea Magiafoglou said many exporters were already looking for alternative markets to sell their produce. “We have some exporters who have a lack of orders (from China) coming through, and airfreight flights have been reduced,” she said.

“One of our main concerns is the logistics of moving products around once they do arrive in China.”

Qantas will suspend direct flights to mainland China from February 9, while the Department of Foreign Affairs has revised its travel advice for China to “do not travel” as cases of the deadly virus climb.

Last week the Department of Health warned Australians to avoid contact with wild or farm animals to help prevent the spread of the virus. If has since retracted the advice, with a spokesperson telling The Weekly Times there was currently no evidence that livestock or companion animals such as dogs and cats could be infected.

“However it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with animals,” the spokesperson said.

Coronavirus is believed to have started in a food market that sells meat, poultry and fish as well as Chinese delicacies such as live reptiles and wild game, in Wuhan, in early December.

Scientists have suggested the most likely initial host of the infectious disease was bats, and potentially mirroring the spread of SARS — the disease it is so closely resembles — from bats to Asian palm civets, a wild animal bred in China for consumption.

Australia’s Department of Agriculture has continued to allay fears. “While this virus seems to have emerged from an unknown animal source in China, it is now spreading from person-to-person, and contact with people is the main route of infection,” a spokesperson said.

 Source: ALEXANDRA LASKIE, The Weekly Times - February 4, 2020

 

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Nominations may be made on the website https://hortconnections.com.au/award-nominations/ 

Growers and exporters fight proposed new charges

Prices of some exporting fees for fruit, vegetable, nut and flower could almost triple under a proposed government scheme.

A FEDERAL Government plan to raise export costs for fruit, vegetables, nuts and flowers is now more than two years behind schedule, with the latest iteration attracting industry backlash over a near tripling of some prices and the inclusion of new charges.
Mounting pressure from horticulture bodies has led the Department of Agriculture to extend its deadline for public consultation on a new horticulture export scheme to early January. The first draft was released in 2015.
The extension will allow the group — tipped to include at least eight of the nation’s biggest horticultural associations — to craft a joint submission calling for a complete reworking of the Government’s export cost-recovery arrangements.
The proposed model would see the exporter levy increase 275 per cent, the cost of a phytosanitary certificate jump from $36 to $115 and registration fees to rise 47 per cent.
New costs announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget would cover scientific and technical advice, support for detained consignments and enforcement activities, adding $1.53 million to the scheme’s cost base.
Australian Horticultural Exporters’ Association chief executive Andréa Magiafoglou said the changes could “critically impact” exporters’ competitiveness.
AusVeg spokesman Tyson Cattle said the peak body for vegetable and potato growers wanted greater transparency.
“We’re not against cost recovery, but we want to make sure it’s fair and equitable,” Mr Cattle said.
“Our view is, given that horticulture is in its infancy in terms of exports, there needs to be some time for the industry to fully mature, so we don’t want any impediments to growth.”
The Government is eager for the proposed model to get ministerial approval so the new fees can be introduced on July 1 next year.
The current scheme is racking up losses of more than $6.3 million.
A Department of Agriculture spokesman said the Government had engaged widely.
“We are seeking to recover the expense of functions that are already being delivered to or on behalf of industry,” he said. “The price increases will ensure the department is sustainably recovering the full cost of the regulation activity.”

 

Source: https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au 

Exports rise in value, volume

The 2018/19 trade figures are now in and the results speak for themselves. Fresh horticulture exports have exceeded expectations yet again, with the sixth record-breaking year in a row. Fresh fruit and vegetable exports surpassed $1.6 billion, representing a 20% increase in value and 8% improvement in volume from the previous year.

Table grapes have been the standout commodity, with over half a billion dollars of fruit exported and achieving the title of the first fruit commodity to reach this mark. Vegetable exports rose a solid 10%, with onions regaining ground and achieving export volumes not seen for several years. More recently, an excellent season is currently being reported for Queensland mandarins with high quality fruit and strong prices. We expect this will bolster trade export volumes over the coming year for this commodity.

China has maintained its position as the number one trading partner for fresh Australian fruit by both volume and value. Table grapes significantly contributed to this result, however improved pathways for both summerfruit and cherries have helped solidify this trade destination. For fresh vegetable exports, Singapore took out the top position for value, while carrot exports to United Arab Emirates pushed this market to the number one position for volume.

Half a year has now passed since enhanced air cargo security measures were implemented. Reports coming in from industry members and participants of the Air Cargo Security Advisory Forum (ACSIAF) held earlier this year indicate the transition was smoother than expected with no major impediments with the exception of higher operational costs.

Around the Brisbane ports, some stevedore and shipping line problems associated with capacity issues have been experienced, however these are hoped to be addressed prior to next year.

Moving forward, the AHEIA is preparing to host industry information-exchange meetings in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne markets for members, exporters and importers alike. More information will be provided on this on due course. We hope to see and hear your views on issues affecting your businesses.

Author: Andréa Magiafoglou (CEO Australia Horticultural Exporters' and Importers' Association)

Source: Brisbane Markets Fresh Source Magazine

Australian exporters denounce fees

Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association criticises a decision to up export certification fees


The Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association (AHEIA) has joined other industry bodies in condemning a proposal increasing fees and charges for export certification activities.

According to AHEIA, Australia’s Federal Department of Agriculture is proposing increases as much as 277 per cent for some certification activities.

The association says the changes would restrict the government’s commitment to enable Australian agriculture to become a A$100bn (US$68bn) sector by 2030.

Andréa Magiafoglou, chief executive of AHEIA, said the proposals reduce the competitiveness of the Australian horticultural industry.

“The Department of Agriculture has a responsibility to develop and implement programmes that support a more profitable, more resilient and a more sustainable agricultural sector that will in turn, help drive a stronger Australian economy,” Magiafoglou said.

“These proposed increases will have a vastly detrimental effect on horticultural exports, reducing the ability to compete globally and the impact will be felt all the way back to the farm gate.”

Citrus Australia is another industry body opposed to the changes, it said these fees will cost the average grower tens of thousands of dollars before they have even exported a single carton.

Joseph Saina, chairman of AHEIA, said the association recognised the Department of Agriculture had costs cost to meet, but there was no indication of how the money would be used.

“Across the board and based on the volumes and proposed fee hikes proposed by the department, this represents a phenomenal A$3.8m (US$2.6m) revenue increase for the department,” Saina said.

“This is without clear indication of where the money will be spent, nor providing any assurance for an improvement in service standards which have impeded export growth to date.”

AHEIA is preparing a detailed response to government and encouraged its members to provide input before the consultation period closes on 10 December.

 

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/produceplus Author: Liam O’Callaghan