The Government must act now to guarantee an improvement in the performance of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), particularly during the transition period of its relocation to Armidale, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) said.
President Fiona Simson said she fears the controversial relocation would disrupt the agricultural sector’s access to productivity tools seemed to be coming true, with the 2017 March quarter approval results revealing some of the worst statistics in the history of the regulator.
“We learnt that in the past quarter only 30% of applications for crop protection products were completed in line with statutory time frames.
“This is down from 82% from the September quarter in 2016.
“In addition only 58% of applications for new animal medicines were processed, compared to 84% last quarter.
Ms Simson said the slow approvals meant farmers were missing out on new, more effective and possibly more economical pesticides and animal medicine products.
“Australian farmers rely on being internationally competitive through efficient operating systems and the production of pest- and disease-free produce.
“Without cost-effective chemical controls, farmers’ ability to compete on the world stage is comprised – a serious concern for an industry that exports three-quarters of what it produces.”
Ms Simson said for some time the performance of the APVMA had not met the expectations of its key stakeholders, including farmers.
“The NFF has longed expressed reservations about the relocation of the APVMA to Armidale and the potential for negative impacts on its ongoing services, performance and business,” Ms Simson said.
“The Government has repeatedly provided assurances that the relocation process represented an opportunity for the APVMA to start fresh and become a ‘next generation’ regulator serving the agricultural sector.
“The results unfortunately confirm our concerns that the APVMA’s operations, as a result of its relocation, have suffered.
“It is now clear that more needs to be done to ensure performance does not continue to deteriorate, including further support for the APVMA during the transition process.”