The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the release of the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
AFPA now looks forward to the Government undertaking a clear long-term vision and plan for the forest product industries that will build on the Forest Industry Advisory Council (FIAC) Strategic Directions Issues Paper.
AFPA Chief Executive Officer Mr Ross Hampton said, “Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has delivered a detailed White Paper with many initiatives that look to benefit the broader cross-section of agribusiness, including:
- $20.4m to further streamline the approval of agricultural and veterinary chemicals;
- $100m to extend the Rural R&D for Profit programme; and
- $200m to improve biosecurity surveillance and analysis to better target critical biosecurity risks.
We anticipate an equally strong response to the FIAC Issues Paper to ensure a suite of policy settings and a durable strategy for the future of the Australian forest products industry, which supports over 120,000 direct jobs, largely in regional and rural Australia, and generates some $22 billion a year in the Australian economy.”
Major priorities for the forest products industry identified in AFPA’s industry wide submission to the FIAC Strategic Directions Issues Paper include:
- A dedicated Minister for Forestry and Forest Product Industries- the reappointment of a dedicated Minister in the Government with direct responsibility for forestry;
- Plantation expansion — providing new drivers for commercial plantation expansion;
- Regional approaches- greater emphasis on building upon the strengths of key industry regions through long-term infrastructure and investment incentives for plantation and wood processing expansion;
- New forest, wood and paper products- positioning the industry to take advantage of opportunities to diversify production and increase value adding in new products such as in engineered wood products, biomaterials, biochemicals and bioenergy; and
- Research and Development initiatives- addressing the dramatic decline in forest industry R&D through greater incentives to build a critical mass of researchers and co-fund priority R&D activities.