CEO message – December 2022

  • CEO message – December 2022 image

It has been a mammoth year in Australian agriculture. Despite the impacts of devastating floods in the eastern states, Australian agriculture is still on track for setting new export commodity benchmarks and high yields for winter crops. According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) December quarter overview, the gross agricultural production is forecasted to be $85 billion and the value of exports a little over $72 billion in 2022-23; just shy of the record set the previous year.

In PHA news, the amendments to the Plant Health Australia (Plant Industries) Funding Act 2022, were passed by the Senate last week and will now progress to the Governor for assent. The amendments include an expanded scope of the Emergency Plant Pest Response levies to provide industry members with greater flexibility and empowers the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to determine if a body is a relevant Plant Industry Member by a notifiable instrument.

The tempo of work and pace of change at PHA has made for a busy year as we commenced implementing the first year of our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan and building a workforce culture to achieve our strategic actions.  The year culminated in our AGM and Member meetings recently held in Canberra. Member meetings provide an opportunity to share company information as well as a platform to share knowledge on the drivers, trends and innovations relevant to our Members and plant biosecurity. They are a highlight on the PHA calendar where we connect with members and hear more about their challenges, opportunities and successes. Members also make the most of their visit to the Capital, holding additional meetings such as PHA project management committees, engaging with other peak industry bodies and meeting with ministers and their advisers to discuss issues of importance. As we head into our planning season for the 2023-24 Annual Operational Plan, we will continue member consultation and engagement to understand priorities and how they align with our five-year strategy. Our Member survey is well underway and I’d like to thank those who have already completed the survey. For those of our Members who haven’t yet had a chance to complete it, the survey will remain open until Tuesday 20 December, to provide more time at what is a busy time of the year – we’d love to receive your feedback!

We have continued our active role as a member on the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative attending the last meeting for 2022 where updates on current activities and investments as well as potential future activities were provided. Members also discussed the upcoming independent review of the initiative that will inform the development of Phase III and the new Memorandum of Understanding between PBRI and the Plant Health Committee (PHC).

Last month, Stuart Kearns our National Manager: Preparedness and RD&E and I, had the pleasure of attending a special event hosted by the Parliamentary Friends of Primary Producers and Grain Producers Australia at Parliament House. The event saw industry leaders from across the grains sector from growers to processors to bulk handlers provided their insights to an audience that included a cross section of parliamentary members and senators, delivering information demonstrating the economic and social value of the grains industry to regional Australia.

Understanding AgTech and the opportunities it presents in improving efficiency, profitability and sustainability not only of production, but also when applied to other elements of production such as early warning systems for pests and disease, is key to minimising and managing biosecurity threats. I recently had an opportunity to do this when I participated in the Central Queensland Smart Cropping Centre Co-Design Day in Emerald which brought together the latest knowledge, technology and practices from a range of stakeholders to develop solutions to the challenges facing the agricultural industry. The event was an opportunity to build new networks and provide a biosecurity lens to the discussion and co-design workshop.

To our Members, stakeholders and staff, thank you for your support, commitment and contributions over the past twelve months; our achievements could not have been made without you. I look forward to our continued partnership and collaboration in 2023 to strengthen the plant biosecurity system. We will be closing for the holidays from close of business on Wednesday 21 December and will re-open on Wednesday 4 January 2023. From all of us at PHA, we wish you a safe, restful and happy festive season.