Building a sustainable workforce that is well-resourced, fit for purpose and responsive to the ever-changing technological advances and potential disruption ahead is an ongoing, complex and challenging issue for Queensland’s agriculture sector. The delivery of necessary skills and training to farmers and those working within the sector is of particular importance to ensure legislative compliance, workplace health and safety, and a successful career in agriculture. However, recent changes to chemical usage legislation have created a significant anomaly that applies to chemical use and licensing for some agricultural applicators using ground distribution equipment in designated ‘Hazardous Areas’, and thereby needs to be resolved.
The use of chemicals and their associated licensing requirements is governed by two regulations in Queensland, the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Regulation 1998 (ACDC) and the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Regulation 2017 (CUAVC). These regulations require certain qualifications to be completed for a valid licence to be issued by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. These chemical handling qualifications, made up of units of competency and skill sets, were reviewed and updated in 2018 by Skills Impact, the national organisation that works to benchmark learning and skills standards for industry, to reflect current agriculture skills standards and practices. While the CUAVC Regulation was recently revised to reflect these updated requirements and despite the Skills Impact review occurring two years earlier, the ACDC Regulation remains unchanged and includes outdated and duplicate qualifications. Therefore, the required qualifications under the different regulations are incompatible and are causing significant confusion for the training providers who deliver them and to farmers who need to ensure their compliance.
The Queensland Farmers’ Federation is calling on the Queensland Government to update the ACDC Regulation to reflect the recent CUAVC Regulation and address the inconsistencies and duplication of chemical use and licensing qualifications that currently exist. The agriculture sector understands and supports the need for adequate skills and training to develop a strong workforce. However, the confusion resulting from the inconsistencies and duplication across relevant legislation remains a barrier to the increased productivity and capacity of the agricultural sector.