Farm businesses are subject to a vast and complex array of regulations. Regulations are in place at every stage of the supply chain — from land acquisition to marketing — and are applied by all levels of government. The number and complexity of regulations affecting farm businesses means that the cumulative burden of regulation on farmers is substantial.
The need for regulation is not disputed by farm businesses. In fact, some regulations, such as biosecurity and food safety regulations, were highlighted as providing clear benefits to Australian farmers. Rather, Australian farmers want ‘better’ (or less burdensome) regulation.
Some regulations lack a sound policy justification and should be removed. Examples include restrictions on the use of land held under pastoral lease arrangements, state bans on cultivating genetically modified crops, barriers to entry for foreign shipping providers, mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods, and the regulated marketing of rice in New South Wales and sugar in Queensland.
In other cases, regulation is the wrong policy tool. Regulatory changes to address community concerns about foreign investment in agriculture, for example, are costly and likely to be ineffective. A better informed conversation about foreign investment is needed.