Media Release

Grains and seeds exporters to receive fee return

12 June 2014

In a move welcomed by the grains industry, some Australian grains and seeds exporters will receive a return of export fees and charges for the 2012–13 financial year.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the Department of Agriculture will be refunding $4.7 million in charges for this period, due to a higher than average industry reserve that has accrued, and will be reducing the industry reserve threshold by $200,000 a year.

"Over a two-year period, the grains industry experienced an unexpected bumper crop and export volumes. This is great news for the industry, but it led to the collection of surplus funds and they asked me to consider the industry reserve that has been accumulating as a result of these higher export volumes," Minister Joyce said.

"The purpose of the industry reserve is to ensure that there is adequate funding for export charges in case of fluctuations in production.

"After considering the healthy industry reserve, the department is now refunding the tonnage charge and annual charge for registered establishments for amounts paid in 2012–13.

"In addition, export fees will be reduced by 25% effective from 1 May to ensure that export charges – determined on a full cost-recovery arrangement in consultation with industry – remain on a sustainable footing.

"For the remainder of 2014–15, all the export sectors will work with the Department of Agriculture to review the export certification fees and charges, through existing government-industry consultative committees.

"Reforms to export charges continue to progress and the department will be working from detailed financial modelling that demonstrates exactly where costs are borne and hence where cost recovery needs to be targeted.

"I congratulate industry and the department for working together on this issue and for their continued collaborative work on future export fees and charges," Minister Joyce said.

Grain Trade Australia CEO Geoff Honey commended Minister Joyce for his timely and responsive actions in approving the refund and reducing export fees.

"The Minister's swift response to this issue has not only been noted but is greatly appreciated by the industry and it just demonstrates that he is serious about reducing unnecessary regulation and costs to the agricultural sector wherever and whenever possible.

"While industry supports the Department of Agriculture's cost recovery arrangements and recognises that taxpayers should not have to bear the costs of grain export certification activities undertaken by the Department, equally, we believe that fees and charges should be based on the real cost of the services provided.

"We are therefore very pleased that the Minister and the Department has responded positively to our request to draw down the industry reserve and to reduce export charges by 25%," Mr Honey said.