Terms of reference

Purpose

A vibrant, innovative and competitive agriculture sector will lead to better returns to farmers, more jobs, more investment and stronger regional communities. Australia is a leading agricultural producer and exporter, and the sector has considerable opportunities for future growth. As a nation we must encourage a strong agricultural sector, with primary producers that remain among the most innovative in the world.

An important role for Government is to set stable, long-term policies to improve productivity and growth. The White Paper on Australia’s Agricultural Competitiveness (the White Paper) will outline a clear strategy to improve the competitiveness and profitability of the agriculture sector, boosting its contribution to trade and economic growth, and building capacity to drive greater productivity through innovation.

By setting a solid foundation to promote investment and jobs growth in the agriculture sector, the White Paper will also help ensure agriculture remains a significant contributor to the Australian economy and regional communities.

Considerations and scope

The White Paper will consider:

  • food security in Australia and the world through the creation of a stronger and more competitive agriculture sector;
  • means of improving market returns at the farm gate, including through better drought management;
  • access to investment finance, farm debt levels and debt sustainability;
  • the competitiveness of the Australian agriculture sector and its relationship to food and fibre processing and related value chains , including achieving fair returns;
  • the contribution of agriculture to regional centres and communities, including ways to boost investment and jobs growth in the sector and associated regional areas;
  • the efficiency and competitiveness of inputs to the agriculture value chain — such as skills, training, education and human capital; research and development; and critical infrastructure;
  • the effectiveness of regulations affecting the agriculture sector, including the extent to which regulations promote or retard competition, investment and private sector-led growth;
  • opportunities for enhancing agricultural exports and new market access; and
  • the effectiveness and economic benefits of existing incentives for investment and jobs creation in the agriculture sector.

The White Paper will not consider industry competitiveness issues associated with the fisheries and forestry sectors and nor will it cover human nutritional health issues.

The White Paper is proposed for release towards the end of 2014. It will complement related initiatives, including the Action Plan to Boost Productivity and Reduce Regulation, the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and the new Energy White Paper.

The White Paper will be developed in the context of the findings of the Commission of Audit, the constrained fiscal circumstances and the Government’s commitment to return the Budget to surplus.

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Agriculture will oversee the development of the White Paper, with responsibility for day-to-day management of the process resting with the Minister for Agriculture in consultation with relevant Ministers.

A cross-agency taskforce within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) will develop the White Paper. It is overseen by an inter‑agency committee co-chaired by Deputy Secretaries from PM&C and the Department of Agriculture. This committee will ensure the broad range of policies that affect the agriculture sector are included in the process to produce a comprehensive plan for the sector.

Public consultation

The White Paper will be developed with extensive consultation with business, non‑government experts and the community. The industry advisory council for the agriculture sector, chaired by the Minister for Agriculture and a respected industry leader, will play a key part in providing advice to assist the development of the White Paper.

Released 9 December 2013