The Australian Government has committed $14.3 million over six years (2014-2020) to help farmers gain improved access to safe and effective agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals, and 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.
The initiative has a range of activities:
- supporting collaboration between growers, producers and the chemical industry on the access needs of Australian agriculture
- establishing an official Australian crop grouping list and associated APVMA guidelines (released by the APVMA on 11 January 2019, accessible at Representative crops and extrapolation principles for risk assessment and data waivers)
- migrating some uses authorised under APVMA-issued permits to product labels
- an assistance grants program to help fund the generation of sufficient data to support applications to the APVMA
- improving the prioritisation of grants to the needs of Australian agriculture.
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.
In December 2018, the department hosted a collaborative forum to develop a priority list of industry-nominated agvet chemical needs. The collaborative forum expanded the role of participants to produce a list more closely aligned with farmers’ agvet chemical needs. Participants included the RDCs, the National Farmers’ Federation, Animal Health Australia, Plant Health Australia and the Australian federal and state and territory governments. The forum was observed by the APVMA, Animal Medicines Australia, CropLife Australia and two Canadian minor use experts (both with extensive experience in developing and operating a similar system in Canada).
A second collaborative forum will be held in late 2019 to guide the grants process for 2019-20, where up to $2 million is available.
Industry collaborative forum
The department provided a grant of $218 182 (GST not applicable) to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC, now Agrifutures Australia) 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 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 guidelines.
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.
More information is available through the APVMA website.
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 migrate permit uses to labels of registered products.
The duration for a permit granted by the APVMA 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 programs, as well as the APVMA, as it has to assess these renewal applications. Migrating uses on permits to product labels eliminates the need for some existing permits and provides widest access to a use (through listing on the label of the product).
For more information on this project, please contact the APVMA.
The department developed an assistance grants program 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 program will provide short term relief to producers while longer-term solutions are developed and implemented through broader reforms.
The first round of assistance grants in 2015-16 funded 49 grants worth $1.68 million. The second round in 2016-17 funded 51 grants worth $2.50 million. The third round in 2017-18 funded 26 grants worth $1.76 million.
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 when 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:
- 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.
- Improve producers’ access to a broader range of Australian approved uses for those agvet chemicals already in the Australian market.
- Improve the number of approved uses that chemical companies choose to bring to the Australian market when introducing a new agvet chemical to Australia.
The department continues to consult with stakeholders on other measures that could deliver these improvements.
About the new funding
The government currently contributes funding to the RDCs to:
- identify access and user needs for agvet chemicals
- generate data to support applications for APVMA minor use permits.
The government also contributes to the APVMA’s minor use program (~$130 000 annually).
An initial $8 million was announced in the 2014-15 budget under the improved access initiative. A further $6.3 million was allocated in the 2018-19 budget to continue the program through to 2019-20.
The $14.3 million is being provided over six years as follows:
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