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Our portfolio

​​​​​​​The agriculture portfolio comprises the Australian Government Department of Agriculture—including the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)—statutory bodies, non-statutory advisory bodies and other associated companies. Independent advisory positions also fall under the portfolio.

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Our ministers

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, Minister for Agriculture
Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture

Portfolio outcomes

The department and each portfolio agency have planned outcomes, which contribute to broader portfolio outcomes.

Statutory bodies

Statutory bodies are established and operate under specific legislation. The legislation usually stipulates membership, terms of reference and reporting requirements. Agriculture portfolio statutory bodies include:

Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA). AFMA is responsible for ensuring sustainable use and cost-effective management of Commonwealth fisheries resources on behalf of the Australian community.

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). APVMA is responsible for assessing and registering agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines and for regulating them up to, and including, the point of retail sale.

Statutory Fishing Rights Allocation Review Panel—Independent specialist panel that hears applications for review from fishers not satisfied with the provisional allocation of statutory fishing rights made by AFMA or a fisheries joint authority in a Commonwealth-managed fishery.

Forest and Wood Products Council (FWPC)—FWPC operates as the Forest Industry Advisory Council and advises the government on building a positive future for the forestry industry in Australia. FWPC provides informative consultation and recommendations on proposed legislation and policies impacting the industry. Members have a broad range of forestry expertise including sawmilling, private forestry, plantations, wood product importers and manufacturers.

National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC)—A skills-based, independent council that advises the Minister for Agriculture on rural adjustment, regional issues, training, exceptional circumstances and other matters as requested. In December 2014 the Australian Government announced that NRAC’s functions would be transferred to the Agricultural Industry Advisory Council.

The department publishes details of statutory appointments of departmental officers​.

Accountability of members of statutory bodies

Directors are accountable to the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Finance—and through them to the parliament—for the operational and financial performance of their statutory authorities under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Boards of directors usually provide annual reports and long-term operational plans for ministerial and/or industry approval. They may also be accountable to specific industries through representative organisations, peak councils and/or levy payers. Boards are responsible for organisational performance and are accountable to stakeholders for achievement of statutory objectives, commercial performance, viability and conformity.

Portfolio statutory authorities that are legally and financially part of the Australian Government (such as AFMA and APVMA) operate under executive management. They are headed by a chief executive officer, supported by commissioners or advisers, and have a direct line of communication and accountability to the minister.

Rural research and development

The rural research and development model is a mix of statutory bodies and industry-owned companies.

Statutory research and development corporations (RDCs)

Five statutory RDCs (Australian Grape and Wine Authority, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Grains Research and Development Corporation and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation) administer funding for Australia’s rural research and development (R&D) activities. Rural RDCs focus on expanding Australia’s rural R&D effort, improving industry effectiveness and efficiency by investing in high priority areas and encouraging uptake of research results to improve international competitiveness, productivity and sustainability.

The Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) also supports a competitive wine sector through marketing, disseminating knowledge and ensuring the integrity of the Australian wine industry. Established in July 2014, AGWA brings together the RD&E activities of the Grape and Wine RDC and the market development and compliance activities of the Wine Australia Corporation in one entity.

From 1 July 2015, statutory RDCs are required to operate under funding agreement with the minister.

Industry-owned companies

Ten industry-owned companies provide R&D services and marketing for the Australian egg, livestock, meat, pork, wool, dairy, forest and wood, horticulture and sugar industries. The industry-owned R&D companies are independent corporate entities, established under specific legislation, with expertise-based boards. The company members appoint the directors of the board.

Company boards are accountable to the Minister through the legislation and statutory funding agreements, which entitle the companies to receive industry levies and matching government funding for eligible R&D expenditure.

Non-statutory bodies

Non-statutory portfolio bodies provide independent advice to the minister on specific issues or oversight on the department's policy, programme and operational responsibilities. They draw on industry stakeholders and outside expertise. Agriculture non-statutory portfolio bodies include:

Agriculture Ministers’ Forum and Agriculture Senior Officials Committee

The Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN) facilitates collaboration between the Australian, state and territory and New Zealand governments on issues of national significance. AGMIN membership comprises ministers with portfolio responsibility for primary industries (including fisheries and forestry). It is chaired by the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture. A communiqué outlining key discussion points is published following each meeting.

The Agriculture Senior Officials Committee (AGSOC) focuses on issues of national significance that require joint collaboration and, where appropriate, progresses issues to AGMIN. AGSOC membership comprises the heads of the Australian, state and territory and New Zealand government departments with responsibility for primary industries. It is chaired by the Australian Government member. CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology are invited to participate in meetings as observers.

Agricultural Industry Advisory Council

The Agricultural Industry Advisory Council (AIAC) provides the Minister for Agriculture with information, advice and recommendations on contemporary issues affecting Australia’s agricultural, fishing and forestry sectors.

The council comprises the minister and 11 other members, appointed by the minister from a cross-section of industries and stakeholders. One member is a representative of the rural banking sector.

Indonesia–Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector

The Indonesia–Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector brings together Australian and Indonesian government and industry with the aim of improving joint competitiveness and prospects for long term investment and trade between Indonesia and Australia as part of a globally competitive supply chain in red meat and cattle.

National Landcare Advisory Committee

The National Landcare Advisory Committee advises the Natural Heritage Ministerial Board on development and implementation of the National Landcare Programme including investment priorities, community consultation and engagement and achievement of outcomes.

Industry consultative committees

Departmental industry consultative committees discuss specific industry issues.

Other associated bodies

The Australian Government provides funding to not-for-profit, portfolio-related companies including Animal Health Australia (AHA), Landcare Australia Limited and Plant Health Australia (PHA). The Commonwealth is a shareholder in AHA and PHA.

Eminent Scientists Group

The Eminent Scientists Group is a high level, independent review group that is tasked with providing external scientific and economic scrutiny of expanded import risk analyses (IRAs).

Interim Inspector-General of Biosecurity

The Interim Inspector-General of Biosecurity (IIGB) provides independent assurance of the ongoing integrity of Australia’s biosecurity systems through independent evaluation and verification of the performance of the department’s risk management programmes across the biosecurity continuum. The IIGB reports directly to the Minister for Agriculture.

Appointments to portfolio bodies

The minister makes appointments to statutory and non-statutory bodies and positions—either directly or based on advice from an independent selection committee. Balance, the agricultural portfolio skills database, supports the search for appointees to Australian Government bodies in the agriculture portfolio. Learn more about the Balance database, including how to register.

Information about appointments to Australian Government boards, including the Agriculture portfolio can be found at AusGovBoards.

Resources

Following a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decision on 13 December 2013 to streamline its council system, the Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI) was discontinued. Historical information about SC​OPI can be found at Australian Government Web Archive.

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Last reviewed:
30 Jul 2015