20 May 2016
Agriculture ministers met in Auckland, New Zealand on 20 May 2016. The meeting was chaired by the New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Niall Blair on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and AGMIN Chair, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce.
Attending ministers addressed a number of key priorities for the agriculture portfolio. The meeting began with a review of key biosecurity issues relevant to Australia and New Zealand. The discussion included examining the resilience of existing biosecurity systems and opportunities where both countries could work together to further improve capability, trade opportunities and align some programmes.
Ministers noted recent amendments to the Biological Control Act 1984 (Cth), and discussed next steps to support a nationally consistent approach for control programmes across all Australian jurisdictions. An update on the national programme for the biological control of rabbits and proposal for European carp was also discussed.
Ministers noted the Commonwealth’s continued work on preparedness activities for foot-and-mouth disease. Ministers noted that the efforts of biosecurity measures, whilst led by agriculture portfolios, deliver significant benefits the environment as well as community amenity benefits. These need to be promoted to all parts of the community in the context of future funding options and engagement with a broader range of risk creators and beneficiaries.
Ministers discussed other preparedness activities and opportunities for Australia and New Zealand to work together. This included the final report on the National Livestock Standstill Exercise – Exercise Odysseus, in particular the next steps to assist with implementation of its recommendations. The discussion identified areas where further improvements to Australia’s animal disease preparedness could be made, noting the very large contribution of biosecurity to our animal export industries. The report is available on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
Findings of an Independent Review Panel’s final report into Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) were considered, in particular, that it remains in the national interest to eradicate the ants and that it is technically feasible and cost beneficial to do so. Ministers agreed to continue to cost share the RIFA South East Queensland eradication programme in 2016–17 in accordance with the nationally agreed 2013–18 Response Plan. Funding of a 10 year eradication plan or transition to a management plan for the SEQ Programme will be considered at the next AGMIN meeting.
Ministers then discussed the development of approaches to farm debt mediation. Other items discussed include challenges related to the branding of agriculture nationally and internationally, progress of renewing regional forest agreements and other forestry related matters, as well as adopting new technologies and techniques in agriculture.
Ministers agreed to new national rural research, development and extension priorities that aim to increase productivity in primary industries that were initially released through the Agricultural Competiveness White Paper.
Commonwealth officials agreed to discuss with the incoming Government a proposal to safeguard the welfare of racing greyhounds exported to countries that do not meet Australian welfare standards.
The next face-to-face meeting of the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum will be held in 2017, with a date and location for the meeting still to be determined.