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Facelift for PIRSA but levy to stay

GLOBAL COST: Minister for Agriculture Michael O’Brien says cost-recovery for government services that benefit farmers is not a South Australian phenomenon but is occuring throughout the world.SOUTH Australia’s primary production sector can expect a new-look PIRSA in 2011 from the State Government, along with a new agribusiness council to provide advice and information to Agriculture Minister Michael O’Brien.

But it should not expect any turnarounds on the proposed biosecurity levy, with the government insisting animal health costs must be recovered.

However, the levy could be a cost-neutral exercise, with the potential for funds in other existing levies to be drawn upon.

This is part of the government’s increasing focus on cost-recovery for current activities that deliver a benefit to private stakeholders – such as farmers.

Speaking to Stock Journal as he approached one year in the role, Mr O’Brien outlined his views on where the industry was headed in 2011 and addressed some of the government’s less popular policies causing the industry concern.

The new agribusiness council would be in place by mid-year and would help to focus the government’s investment in the agriculture industry, particularly in attracting new development to the State.

Mr O’Brien said the council would perform a similar role to SA’s Economic Development Board but specific to the agribusiness sector, identifying opportunities in the industry and helping to focus the government’s assistance.

It would contain agricultural bureau representation but would replace the Advisory Board of Agriculture, for which funding was cut in the recent State Budget.

*Full report in Stock Journal, January 27 issue, 2011.

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