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Red tape killing our farms - new report says we need to fix it

STOP OVER-REGULATION: Report steering committee member, farmer and Agforce vice president Georgie Somerset.
STOP OVER-REGULATION: Report steering committee member, farmer and Agforce vice president Georgie Somerset. Katherine Morris

OVER-regulation is killing the Gympie region's still dominant agricultural industry, according to a top level assessment by national economic consultant Deloitte Australia.

The consultancy network says Queensland is at a crossroads and can add $54 billion to its economy and create 230,000 more jobs, "but only if we make the right decisions".

The consultancy's Shaping Future Cities report was overseen by a steering committee including AgForce vice-president Georgie Somerset, who is also the only regional representative on the board of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

The Deloitte report emphasised the role of agriculture as a pillar of Queensland's economy, a status that is even more significant in Gympie region, where agriculture is an economic mainstay, along with manufacturing, tourism and retailing.

The report describes agriculture as "a pillar of productivity" but says the normal challenges of an internationally competitive business sector are made worse by "a vast and complex array of regulations".

And on that score, Deloitte is not making it up.

Its report is quoting the Productivity Commission's 2016 inquiry into agricultural regulation.

It continues: "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 of complexity of regulations affecting farm businesses means that the cumulative burden of regulation on farmers is substantial."

And, alarmingly, some of the regulations achieve nothing and are not consistent with each other.

This means, farmers battling their price-taking position on domestic and world markets may often not even understand their obligations or costs.

"Inconsistent and ineffective regulatory requirements across and within jurisdictions make it difficult for farmers to understand their obligations and add to the cost of doing business," Deloitte says.

It calls for federal, state and local government to "remove or simplify unnecessary red tape".

In Queensland, it says, agriculture is affected by 75 Acts and regulations covering 17,950 pages.

One difficult area is the important Gympie region sector of irrigation farming as well as environmental and planning rules, where it says there is room for improvement.

Topics:  gympie business gympie farming gympie jobs mary valley

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