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Improved access to agricultural and veterinary chemicals - $8 million initiative

​​​The Australian Government has committed $8 million over four years (2014-2018) to help farmers gain improved access to safe and effective agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals, to assist them in producing food for Australia and the world.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is working closely with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), grower groups, rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) and the chemical industry to deliver this commitment.

A number of activities have commenced under the initiative, including work to:

  • develop and implement an agvet collaborative forum to allow stakeholders to more effectively share their access needs with each other and chemical companies
  • establish an official Australian crop grouping list and associated APVMA guidelines
  • migrate some APVMA permits to product labels
  • develop an assistance grants programme to help fund the generation of sufficient data to support applications to the APVMA.

All interested stakeholders will continue to have the opportunity to provide input.

In addition to the work taking place under the new funding, the government is also committed to reforming agvet chemicals regulation to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the system and increase access to chemicals.

The department has progressed a number of initiatives with the new funding to improve access to agvet chemicals, as listed below.

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Collaborative forum

The department provided a grant of $218 182 (GST not applicable) to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) to establish a self sustaining collaborative forum of growers, research and development corporations (RDCs) and chemical industry. The forum’s goals were to enable sharing priorities and fostering collaboration. The forums will also deliver a cross-industry agreed Plant industry forum priorities 2017 [XLS, 539 KB] for uses of agvet chemicals.

For more information, or to become involved with the forum, please contact RIRDC.

Crop Grouping

The department has provided a grant of $130 000 (GST not applicable) to the APVMA to establish an official Australian list of crop groupings and develop associated guidance.

Establishing an official crop grouping list will reduce regulatory costs for producers to gain access to more uses of agricultural chemicals. Crop grouping will maximise the use of data generated in other crops through extrapolation to a group of crops, with little or no additional data needed. In practice, where registration/permit has been gained for representative crops, automatic extension or approval would be allowed to all other crops within the group (and possibly across groups) without the need for additional data or review.

For more information on the APVMA’s consultation on the improved access to agvet chemicals initiative, including the crop grouping project, please contact the APVMA.

Migrating permits to labels

The department has provided a grant of $240 000 (GST not applicable) to the APVMA to examine all permits currently issued to peak industry bodies (involving uses in crops and livestock species) and determine suitable candidates for migration from APVMA permit to product label (registration), and to then liaise with the holders of registration to seek to get uses onto labels of registered products.

The duration granted by the APVMA for a permit can vary from one season to up to 10 years. As permits have a limited duration, permit holders must periodically submit applications to the APVMA to renew permits. This may or may not require submission of new data. This renewal activity can consume a significant amount of resources from stakeholders’ existing access to chemicals programmes, as well as the APVMA as it has to assess these renewal applications. Migrating uses on permits to product labels would eliminate the need for some existing permits, reduce future demand for permits and provide greatest access to a use (listed on the label of the product).

For more information on the APVMA’s consultation on the improved access to agvet chemicals initiative, including the permits to labels project, please contact the APVMA.

Assistance grants

The department developed an assistance grants programme to generate sufficient data to support applications to the APVMA for agvet chemical uses identified as a priority by the collaborative forum.

The Assistance Grants – Improved Access to Industry Priority Uses of Agvet Chemicals grants programme will provide short term relief to producers while longer-term solutions are developed and implemented through broader reforms.

Up to $1.7 million was available in Round 1 (2015-16). Up to $2.44 million was available in Round 2 (2016-17). 100 projects were funded in both rounds.

A third funding round opened on 1 August 2017 until 2 pm (AEDT) 15 December 2017. Successful grant recipients are expected to be announced early in 2018.

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The agvet chemical access issue

Access to safe and effective agvet chemicals is important to Australian agricultural and livestock industries, the community and the environment.

Farmers use agvet chemicals to help protect crops and animals from pests and diseases, and treat infections when they occur.

However, Australian farmers sometimes have difficulties getting access to the particular uses of an agvet chemical that are available to overseas competitors.

The small size of the Australian market can make the costs involved with registering an agvet chemical for its use in Australia uncommercial. This is particularly the case for treating pests and diseases in specialty crops and livestock species. Larger industries face a similar problem managing uncommon or emerging pests and diseases. These chemical access issues are often referred to as the ‘minor use’ issue.

About the improved access to agvet chemicals initiative

The initiative will improve access to agvet chemicals and increase the number of uses available to producers. To successfully deliver enduring improvements to access to agvet chemicals the initiative will:

  1. Improve the ability of producers to effectively share their needs and priorities for uses of agvet chemicals between themselves, grower groups, chemical companies and government.
  2. Improve producers’ access to a broader range of Australian approved uses for those agvet chemicals already in the Australian market.
  3. Improve the number of approved uses that chemical companies choose to bring to the Australian market when introducing a new agvet chemical to Australia.

This is a complex problem and stakeholders have a range of views on how it should be addressed. The department continues to consult with stakeholders to explore specific options to deliver these improvements.

About the new funding

The government currently contributes funding to the research and development corporations to:

  • identify access and user needs for agvet chemicals, and
  • generate data to support applications for APVMA minor use permits.

The government also currently provides about $136 000 annually towards the APVMA’s minor use programme.

The $8 million announced in the 2014-15 budget under the improved access initiative is in addition to this existing funding.

The $8 million is being provided over four years as follows:

Total $0.0 M0.

Regulatory reform

The most sustainable solution to improve access to agvet chemicals is to review the existing administrative and legislative framework to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the system. Industry, community, users and the Australian Government have identified a number of potential reform opportunities for the regulation of agvet chemicals, including opportunities to further improve access to safe chemicals and chemical uses. The department has identified possible reforms in consultation with stakeholders, including options to:

  • investigate options to remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to registration of products and uses
  • facilitate greater reliance on international data, assessments or decisions
  • support increased access to agvet chemicals where appropriate.

More information on future reforms, including how to contribute to the reform development process, can be found on the department's website.

Share your views

Stakeholders understand how gaps in the supply of agvet chemicals can affect producers. We welcome your insights on how to tackle the problem and support industry. Please consider the opportunity to share these insights through the Agvet Collaborative Forum and the regulatory reform consultation processes. We also invite you to provide your ideas directly to the Agvet Chemicals Policy Section.

In 2014 we also invited a small number of subject matter experts to join an informal advisory group, to help strengthen the department’s initial understanding of the diversity of concerns and to advise on implementing potential solutions. These experts were chosen to cover specific areas of expertise or experience – they were not representative of all interested stakeholders. Numbers were kept to a minimum to maintain the efficiency of the group. The advisory group was to enhance, not replace, our continued efforts to consult broadly with stakeholders.


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