The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has recently released a new industry-focused guide that will provide practical, step-by-step guidance to support the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors in establishing or changing levies. These levies are on products like bananas, beef production, ginger, goat slaughter, honey, lamb slaughter, mushrooms, potatoes, sheep slaughter, vegetables and wool. The levies are raised on industries like Field crops, Livestock transaction, Animal products, Horticulture, Livestock processing, Wine, Poultry, Forestry. Also on other rural industries; Live animal export, Fisheries and Game animals.

First Assistant Secretary of Agricultural Policy, Cassandra Kennedy, said the department worked with stakeholders to prepare the new guide which replaces the 2009 Levy Principles and Guidelines “The new Levy guidelines: How to establish or amend agricultural levies deliver on the Australian Government’s commitment to review the 2009 Levy Principles and Guidelines, and to support industries to invest in their own futures,” Ms Kennedy said.

Industry overwhelmingly called for new guidance that sets out the processes for establishing a new levy or changing an existing levy, and helps, rather than hinders, industry to establish or amend levies. Australia’s $800 million-plus agricultural levy system enables primary producers to take collective industry action on shared issues. In 2018–19 the federal government disbursed $828.77 million to levy recipient bodies (LRBs). This comprised of $529.03 million in levies and charges (levies) and $299.74 million in Commonwealth matching payments. The cost recovered for administering the levies was $4.84 million, representing 0.9% of the total amount of levies disbursed and an increase of $0.22 million or 4.7% from 2017–18. The increase reflects the normalisation of our costs from the offline work undertaken by our system service provider on the levy payer register project. The department continues to streamline its processes through technological innovations and process improvements. In 2018–19 we processed 44,740 returns and 45,332 receipts received from 7,606 collections points.

“Clearer, contemporary guidance will empower industries to respond more readily to opportunities, challenges and market changes. Now industry will be better equipped to prepare for and participate in industry consultation—resulting in a stronger focus on quality and outcomes, rather than procedure” said Ms Kennedy. The groups impacted are, AgriFutures Australia, Animal Health Australia, Australian Eggs Limited, Australian Meat Processors Corporation, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Wool Innovation Limited, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia Limited, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited, Australian Livestock Export Corporation Limited, Meat & Livestock Australia, National Residue Survey, Plant Health Australia Limited, Sugar Research Australia Limited and Wine Australia.

The Levy guidelines step out the processes to establish or amend an industry-driven levy. Agricultural levies are used to fund strategic industry priorities in: research and development, marketing, biosecurity emergency responses, biosecurity activities (for Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia membership), and national residue survey.