Our purpose

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources:

  • provides advice to the Australian Government on how to help our primary industries remain competitive, productive and sustainable into the future
  • provides advice to the government on how best to achieve social, economic and environmental benefits from the use of water resources in the national interest
  • administers government programs and legislation that support these objectives, including the collection of levies for research, development and marketing
  • regulates the importation of food and other goods to ensure that Australia is protected against exotic animal and plant pests and diseases
  • regulates the provision of export certification of agriculture, fish and forest products to meet importing country requirements.

In 2015–16, the department carried out activities under eight strategic objectives to achieve this purpose:

Building successful primary industries

  • Improve the farm-gate returns for agriculture, fisheries, food and fibre industries.

Supporting agricultural communities

  • Provide targeted assistance to help primary producers, their families and communities manage adjustment pressures.

Expanding agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports

  • Maximise returns to primary producers from selling into export markets.

Sustaining natural resources for longer-term productive primary industries

  • Promote stewardship of agricultural land, forests and fisheries to maintain the quality of natural resources, including in times of drought.

Improving water use efficiency and the health of rivers, communities, environmental assets and production systems

  • Improve the environmental health of the Murray–Darling Basin consistent with national and international obligations by recovering water, including by prioritising water-saving infrastructure projects.
  • Help communities, irrigators and businesses to use water resources sustainably and efficiently, consistent with nationally agreed water reforms.

Managing biosecurity and imported food risk

  • Use evidence-based risk management to ensure the safe movement into and out of Australia of people, animals, plants, food and cargo.
  • Coordinate emergency responses to exotic pest and disease incursions.
  • Provide certification of exports to meet importing country requirements.

Building an efficient and capable department

  • Focus on performance, deliver on our objectives, meet our statutory obligations and parliamentary requirements, and continuously build organisational capability.

Being a best practice regulator

  • Encourage regulators to undertake their functions with the minimum impact necessary to achieve regulatory objectives and to effect positive ongoing and lasting cultural change.

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