Environmental and Health-Related Standards Influencing Agriculture in Australia

CIES Working Paper No. 10

137 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2000

See all articles by Randy Stringer

Randy Stringer

University of Adelaide - Centre for International Economic Studies (CIES)

Kym Anderson

University of Adelaide - Centre for International Economic Studies (CIES); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Australian National University

Date Written: March 2000


This report is part of a five-country study focusing on how environmental and human health related standards apply to the agricultural sector. The overall study is coordinated by the Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI) in the Netherlands. The five countries include Australia, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand and the USA. Each country study provides an overview of its agricultural sector; explains government policy objectives; outlines public sector approaches to the various environmental and health-related issues confronting agriculture; details a comprehensive inventory of environmental and health-related regulations; and draws out key economic implications of complying with both current and prospective environmental and health-related policies, particularly as they impact on the international competitiveness.

Until recently, Australia's farmers have been largely insulated from the demands of environmental groups and from government restrictions on their activities. Now, however, various local, national and international pressures are forcing policymakers to address agricultural environmental and health-related issues and to examine ways to promote more sustainable farming practices. Australian policy recognises that environmental and ecologically sustainable development issues must be dealt with at all levels of government if the resource base is to be used optimally.

Australia has begun responding to this environmental challenge by committing to a process of adapting sustainable development concepts, programs, and policies to suit domestic socioeconomic conditions, including prevailing agricultural production, consumption and trade patterns. It also has been a keen participant in international agencies such as Codex Alimentarius, WTO, IOE and IPPC, whose foci are on global food safety and plant and animal health issues.

Environmental and food safety management involves a mix of government regulations and voluntary approaches. Voluntary measures and agreements between governments, industry and community groups play a key role, with an increasing emphasis on economic (ie. price-based) instruments. For example, the current water reform agenda that is gradually being accepted across the country includes moves towards full cost pricing of water delivery and tradeable water rights.

The Commonwealth Government is currently undertaking a comprehensive reform of the country's environmental law regime. The objective of this process is to deliver better environmental outcomes in a manner that promotes greater certainty for all stakeholders and minimises the potential for delay and intergovernmental duplication (DE, 1998). Fundamental to the reform package is the integration of environmental, economic and social considerations through the implementation of the principles of ecologically sustainable development. The precautionary principle and the principle of intergenerational equity are expressly recognised. Two other guiding principles of the reform process are the need to maintain and enhance international competitiveness in an environmentally sound manner and the adoption of cost-effective and flexible measures.

Keywords: Environmental and Food Safety Management, Environmental Policy, Health Policy, Agriculture, International Competitiveness, Natural Resource

JEL Classification: I18, F13, F14, F15, F17, O13, Q2

Suggested Citation

Stringer, Randy and Anderson, Kym, Environmental and Health-Related Standards Influencing Agriculture in Australia (March 2000). CIES Working Paper No. 10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=231214 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.231214

Randy Stringer (Contact Author)

University of Adelaide - Centre for International Economic Studies (CIES) ( email )

Adelaide SA5005
+61 8 8303 4821 (Phone)
+61 8 8223 1460 (Fax)

Kym Anderson

University of Adelaide - Centre for International Economic Studies (CIES) ( email )

School of Economics
Adelaide SA 5005
+61 8 8313 4712 (Phone)
+61 8 8223 1460 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Australian National University ( email )

Arndt-Corden Dept of Economics
Coombs Building
Canberra, AK ACT 2600
+61 8 8313 4712 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://publicpolicy.anu.edu.au/crawford_people/content/staff/acde/kanderson.php

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