Media Release

Horticulture review: make better use of levy and taxpayer funds

9 May 2014

The Australian Government today welcomed the findings of an independent report into the performance of Horticulture Australia Limited, a research, development and marketing body owned by horticulture peak bodies.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the report makes a strong and persuasive case for grower levy-payers to be the owners of the organisation and to have a direct say in how investments are made in the future.

"Having dealt extensively with horticulture industry groups I am not surprised that the report recommends significant change to the research and development, and marketing services delivery model for Australian horticulture," Minister Joyce said.

"Horticulture Australia Limited was established in 2001 to serve 43 separate peak industry bodies and the Australian industry and the markets that it supplies have matured a lot since then.

"The shape of international markets is changing rapidly and our producers need to respond with agility and make wise investments to take advantage of the opportunities.

Horticulture Australia Limited invests around $107 million of grower levies and taxpayer funds annually in horticulture programs designed to boost profitability and productivity, in-line with the Australian Government's Rural Research and Development priorities.

Recommendations from the report include transitioning Horticulture Australia Limited to a new, grower-owned Research and Development Corporation rather than one run by peak bodies.

"Research and development will play a crucial role in positioning the Australian horticulture industry to take advantage of the emerging demand from the Asian region for high quality, safe food," Minister Joyce said.

"The Coalition is committed to driving continuous improvement in the investment of levy and taxpayer funds.

"Given the importance of this issue to the horticulture sector, I hope that the Horticulture Australia Limited Board will respond to the final report in a timely manner after consulting with their members."

The review was conducted by ACIL Allen, as required by the Statutory Funding Agreement between the Australian Government and Horticulture Australia Limited.