Agriculture Ministers' Forum

​8 February 2019

Agricultural ministers and representatives from Australia and New Zealand met in Adelaide, South Australia on 8 February 2019 for the seventh meeting of the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum. The meeting was chaired by the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. David Littleproud MP.

Members noted the current flood crisis in Queensland and bushfires in Tasmania and acknowledged the valuable assistance provided between jurisdictions in these events.

Ministers addressed a number of key priorities for the agriculture portfolio and began with an update on the National Drought Agreement and recent activities to support drought effected farmers and communities. The first report on progress under the agreement will be provided to the Council of Australian Governments by 30 June 2019.

Ministers discussed the new Intergovernmental Agreement for Biosecurity recently signed by the Prime Minister and noted it comes into effect as each premier and chief minister signs it. This builds on earlier activities and focuses on a collective work program to be delivered by all jurisdictions to support Australia’s important biosecurity system. New performance indicators and a reporting framework are being developed which will be reviewed annually.

A new Intergovernmental Agreement on Strengthening Australia’s Fruit Fly Management System was agreed in-principle by ministers. This supports a national system for the management of native, endemic and exotic fruit flies and supports Australia’s horticultural exports.

Ministers noted work underway for a biofouling management approach for international vessel arrivals in Australia and agreed to further work to minimise biofouling risks throughout Australian waters.

Ministers received an update on work underway to support the agriculture sector adapt to climate change and discussed climate models and economic impacts. Further work will identify risks and opportunities for agricultural industries and to identify actions and a work program to inform a national strategy.

A range of farm business issues were discussed by ministers including: work towards a harmonised approach to Farm Debt Mediation; the development of an improved national governance model for farm animal welfare standards; and recent activities for the dairy industry including consultation on a mandatory code.

Ministers noted work underway to develop a shared vision for the future of Australia’s agricultural innovation system. This included extensive stakeholder engagement and a review of other international models. The report is expected to be released in early 2019.

Ministers discussed recent reviews and commitments for live animal exports. The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock report and government response is available on the Depart​ment of Agriculture and Water Resources website. The Heat Stress Risk Assessment (HSRA) review closed on 31 January 2019 and the technical reference panel is finalising its report and recommendations.

Updates were provided on a range of matters including: a presentation by Dr Wendy Craik on the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program on behalf of the steering committee; the regulation of gene technologies related to agriculture and food products; the ACCC Beef and Cattle report, agricultural education, food regulation, horse registration and antimicrobial resistance.