Agricultural Productivity

Queensland’s agricultural sector is highly productive, innovative and efficient. Farm businesses must continually improve their productivity and efficiency and maximise their competitiveness.

  • Regulation

    QFF and its member organisations acknowledge and accept that there is a need for effective regulation. For example, it may provide protections for business owners and workers, set minimum performance standards that satisfy community expectations, or underpin product quality standards for consumers. When regulation is well designed and implemented it has a positive impact on the sector.

    However, Queensland’s farmers regularly assert that they are faced with a significant array of complex and often overlapping regulation. Understanding, managing and complying with poorly targeted and/or executed regulation can have substantial time and financial cost implications for agricultural businesses. A 2014 report by Holmes Sackett[1] quantified that the average annual cost incurred by all farms surveyed relating to bureaucratic red tape was $31,364 per annum.

    The Australian Government Productivity Commission recently completed its inquiry into the ‘Regulation of Agriculture’[2]. The inquiry focused on regulations that have a material impact on the competitiveness and productivity of Australian agriculture and acknowledged that there are regulations at every stage of the supply chain and the cumulative burden of this regulatory framework is substantial. The inquiry also concluded that regulatory burdens can have a significant and disproportionate impact on small businesses—the predominant business structure in the agricultural sector.

    Perverse outcomes arise from regulation that is not warranted or appropriately targeted, and when it is not well communicated or clearly understood. QFF advocates for all levels of government to work constructively with industry to eliminate duplicate and excessive bureaucratic red and green tape wherever possible. The benefits of regulation must outweigh the costs of doing so to ensure the agriculture sector can maximise efficiencies and realise its potential.

    [1] Holmes Sackett (2014). ‘A snapshot of the red tape costs on farm in Australia’.

    [2] https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/agriculture#report

  • Telecommunications

    All Australians, including those living in regional and rural Queensland, are entitled to equal access to reliable and affordable telecommunications. This is currently not the case and the digital divide between city and country telecommunications users is growing.

    In today’s world, quality telecommunications services are a necessity for everyday life and they are critically important to effectively manage regional/rural businesses. Frequently, you do not have to travel very far from major metropolitan centres to experience the ‘tyranny of distance’, where you are unable to take calls, check emails, or if you do have internet service wait 20 minutes to download an email attachment. Increasingly, governments and businesses rely on people having access to broadband internet to provide their services, and modern farm businesses use information technologies to assist in production, risk management and marketing activities.

    Compounding this is the fact that all industries are becoming more information-intensive. Agriculture is a tech-savvy sector comprised of natural innovators who generally embrace technology and innovation, but farm businesses in many parts of the state are frequently hindered by inadequacies in service and infrastructure. Digital agriculture (collecting, transferring and analyzing huge amounts of data) promises significant productivity gains for the sector. However, this is dependent on a modern, reliable and robust telecommunications network.

    The current state of telecommunications services in country areas must rapidly improve. Fundamental issues that need to be addressed include: a universal service obligation (USO) that provides access to both voice and data; long-term public funding for open access mobile network expansion; fair, equitable and appropriate access to Sky Muster; and accountability measures for voice and data service providers, such as customer service guarantees and reliability metrics.

    QFF advocates for equitable, reliable and affordable telecommunications services for farmers and people living in regional/rural Queensland. Governments and telecommunications businesses have an obligation to ensure people living in country areas are not disadvantaged in the modern economy and are able to take advantage of the digital innovations it brings. The whole mindset around the value of providing telecommunications services to regional/rural Australia needs to change – this will require public and private sector leadership and cooperation.