– POLITICAL AND LEGAL ENVIRONMENTS
political and legal environments after climate, are the most
important outside environment affecting the farm system. There are a
myriad of acts and regulations at all levels of government which
directly and indirectly affect the farm system. However, not all have
a negative impact, some, such as the various agricultural boards
producer by way of research, industry rationalisation, provision of
facilities and marketing of the product. The following is a summary
only of all the various and relevant bodies. Some state examples are
provided but generally, there is complementary legislation in all the
international nature of Australia's commodity rural markets has
required government, particularly Federal Government, involvement The
most fundamental and difficult problems relate to questions of price
and access to overseas markets.
is the inherent nature of primary production that there are problems
of wide price fluctuations and the general level of return to
trade raises the problem of proliferation of virtually unscaleable
trade barriers against traditional efficient exporters of
agricultural products. This problem applies particularly to Australia
and Argentina. International attempts to overcome these problems have
led to a number of international trade forums.
include the encouragement of production, unreasonably high support
programs, the availability in some countries of excessive export
subsidies, disruption of commercial markets by uncoordinated gifts of
surplus production (this factor applies particularly to the USA) and
competition between natural products and synthetic substitutes.
AGREEMENT ON TARIFFS AND TRADE (GATT)
is the best known international forum for international trade
discussions. The main objectives of GATT have been to maximise
opportunities for trade through reductions in tariffs and other trade
involve very difficult and complex negotiations and generally, have
failed to produce any real solutions to the problems confronting
world trade in agricultural products. However, Australia accepts GATT
as the main forum in which international action for the reduction of
trade barriers can be pursued. That is it is a very useful
international sounding board.
N CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT (UNCTAD)
is also an active member of UNCTAD. This organisation is primarily
concerned with tropical agricultural products such as pineapples,
sugar cane, bananas and rice, certain minerals and the competition
between natural products and synthetic substitutes.
AND AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION (FAO)
is another UN organisation. It is concerned with trade in
agricultural products and the promotion of better agricultural
methods (known as the "green revolution" in developing
countries). One of it's major contributions has been the
establishment of rules of conduct pertaining to the surplus disposal
of agricultural products. That is, controls on "dumping".
The FAO guidelines have until recently, restrained countries from
disruptive disposals of surpluses and thereby contributed to the
orderly marketing of many primary commodities.
OF INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS
the above forums are important sounding boards for the airing of
grievances, Australia has found it necessary to try and overcome
problems of particular commodities on an individual basis. The
results of such conferences has resulted in a number of international
commodity agreements aim to stabilise international trade in that
commodity by the application of price or export regulations. Such
regulations can be quantitative controls, regulation of sales within
a minimum and maximum price range, or orderly marketing arrangements.
These are not easily negotiated. The most important
commodity agreements cover the following commodities:
international wheat agreements are in the form of "multilateral
contracts" establishing a price range for commercial
transactions. The agreements contain an undertaking by exporters to
supply the commercial requirements of importers at prices within the
range and a corresponding commitment by importers to purchase from
exporting members a certain proportion of their total commercial
purchases at prices within the range.
world trade in wheat and wheat flour is regulated by the
International Grains Arrangement (IGA). The successive arrangements
regulating international trade in grains have undoubtedly contributed
to the stability of world trade in these commodities. While certain
difficulties have been experienced in the operation of the current
overall have been better than they would have been in the absence of
trade in sugar is regulated by a number of bilateral and multilateral
agreements. The main agreements affecting Australian exports of sugar
is the International Sugar Agreement.
the agreement provides for controls on the amount of sugar entering
the free market by allocating Basic Export Tonnages to the individual
trade in meat has not been brought within the framework of any
comprehensive international commodity agreement that is, basically, a
free market. However, Australia has negotiated important bilateral
arrangements on meat with the EEC and the USA.
arrangements have an important and lasting effect on Australia's
production since WW2. However, the US agreement is continually under
pressure from the powerful US cattle interest lobby groups. Japan has
taken increased quantities of Australian meat in recent years There
is no quantitative restriction on the level of imports of sheepmeats
but access for beef and veal is subject to annual quotas.
EEC is Australia's largest and most lucrative market for butter and
after Japan, for cheese. The Asian countries offer the greatest
potential for market growth
Apple and Pear Corporation
Canned Fruits Corporation
Dried Fruits Corporation
- Australian Egg
- Australian Meat
and Livestock Corporation
- Australian Wine
- Australian Wool
EXAMPLE – SOUTH AUSTRALIA
- SA Co-operative
Bulk Handling Ltd
- Citrus Industry
- Dairy Produce
- Dried Fruits
- SA Egg Board
Milk Board - licences are required to sell milk to vendors or consumers
of milk within the metropolitan area - Metropolitan Milk Supply Act,
- SA Meat
- Meat Hygiene
- Trade Practices
Exemption for Statutory Marketing schemes - Trade Practices Act, 1974.
GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN PRIMARY PRODUCTION
Australia as with most other advanced economies the Federal
government has assumed to an unprecedented degree, responsibility for
the functioning and welfare of the economy in general, and
agriculture in particular. Certain characteristics of farming gives
rise to greater government involvement than for other sectors of the
small scale competitive structure of farming means that the
government must organize research, quarantine and promotion
activities. Another factor is the instability of farming in terms of
both price and production.
factor has led to expenditures on drought relief and to the
establishment of stabilization schemes for a number of industries.
Further, adjustment to changing economic difficulties often pose
great difficulties for the rural producer.
change of occupation usually implies a change of residence. This has
given rise to government sponsored reconstruction schemes.
has been a steady increase in the total levels of government
financial assistance to the rural sector over the last 15 years. The
attached list covers the measures of Australian Government
TO IMPROVE INDUSTRY EFFICIENCY
covers expenditure on research and extension, on disease control and
quarantine expenditure, on overseas promotion, export inspection, and
industry reconstruction. Expenditures in these areas have increased
substantially and now account for more than 30% of the Australian
Government's assistance to agriculture.
and research are responsible for the bulk of this expenditure.
Reconstruction funds are almost wholly loans rather than grants to
the farming sector.
on infrastructure includes expenditure on irrigation and water supply
projects, on beef cattle roads, and brigalow land development. Part
of this expenditure especially in the 1960s, was in the form of
loans. This group accounts for about 5% of the total Australian
government rural appropriations. However, the ratio has fallen over
the last decade.
COMPENSATING FOR VARIOUS DISABILITIES
this heading are:
provisions in the income tax legislation
- Drought relief
- Flood and
drought relief payments.
made to various farm groups after the British devaluation and
reduction in the returns received by Australian rural exporters.
Total government expenditures under this headings have been highly
variable as 1 and 2 depend upon occasional happenings.
relief expenditures have been partly in the form of grants and partly
in the form of loans, with the latter accounting for about 40% of
government expenditure on drought relief.
TO RURAL MARKETING AGENCIES
item includes expenses of various national marketing boards, advances
of working capital to the Australian Wool Commission, and grants to
canning factories. The sums involved are small being only about 1-2%
of total assistance to the rural industry.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PRODUCERS
are 2 types of assistance under this heading:
these the wheat stabilization scheme is by far the most important and
the oldest. In the early postwar period, the wheat growers made
substantial payments into the stabilization fund but the Australian
Government's contribution has tended to rise over the years. Total
direct assistance represents about 30% of total government grants to
the agricultural industries.
- Payments into
stabilization funds in accordance with government undertakings under
stabilization schemes for products such as wheat, dried vine fruits,
apples and pears.
assistance to woolgrowers when prices are extremely low.
are subsidies to reduce the price of agricultural inputs. In the past
it well represented by subsidies on both phosphatic and nitrogenous
in this group are a range of tax concessions to rural producers
including investment allowances, accelerated depreciation allowances,
property tax relief and the deductibility of certain types of capital
primary producer or rural land user is generally, subject to a
greater number of government statutory controls than other land
users. This is because:
producers grow food. Food requires health controls
- Marketing and
growing regulatory controls. This is an economic control often at
Federal level on the amount and marketing channels of primary produce.
- Direct land use
controls such as zones, crown leases, and over lands within water
the rural valuer has to have a very broad ranging knowledge of
primary industries and not just a "stand back" overview of
controls as in urban valuations. Controls on primary production vary
from state to state.
GST is paid on the purchase of a farm so long as the original rural
use will continue to be pursued by the new owner.
rural statutory controls – south australia
DILEMMA - REGULATION OR PERSUASION?
OF TWO SOUTH AUSTRALIAN ACTS
management of agricultural lands throughout Australia has been a
complex combination of "law", "economics",
"science" and "values". However, the starting
point should be "values" as generally, the law is a result
of society's value consensus or psyche. Australians have had an
ambivalent attitude to land management. On the one hand they have
allowed almost total laissez faire land use of the better
agricultural regions of Australia but have, since the turn of the
century, been greatly concerned with the degradation of pastoral
lands - see NSW Royal Commission, 1901. That is, society's "values"
have treated the arid regions with greater respect, awe and reverence
to the better agriculture regions.
general terms the Soil Conservation and Land Care Act 1989 (SA) ( the
Soil Act), and the Pastoral Land Management Act 1989 (SA (the
Pastoral Act) have as their objects a statement of a preferred human
relationship with the land and its soil, vegetation and water.
relationship or ethic contains many constituent parts including the
need to recognise past degrading land use practices, that such
practices are no longer acceptable, the present importance of land
and that the land must be conserved for the benefit of the people of
the state - s6, Soil Act, s4, Pastoral Act. However, all land
management legislation should include in their objectives the
prevention of land being used beyond sustainability and the
restoration of degraded land. Both acts provide for this in their
"objects and duties" and include the good management
practice of "feedback" by requiring the monitoring of the
acts' progress over time.
neither "sustainable use" nor "capability" is
defined even though both are central to the acts. The definition of
"capability" in the Soil Conservation Act is a good
definition and should be used in the Pastoral Act. "Degradation"
as defined in the Pastoral Act has a more appropriate wide meaning as
it includes not only soil – s3 Pastoral Act. The general thrust of
both acts is that land must be seen not as the sole domain of the
landowner but as a resource belonging to the public "at large".
It is not a right or interest in the classical sense but a duty or
responsibility to the land.
is arguable that a "conservation ethic" that underpins both
acts, more so than any scientific, economic or legal basis
particularly; the Soil Act.
refers to beliefs held by an individual or group of individuals
particularly relating to land use. It refers to how a landowner
perceives his/her activities in relation to the past, present and
future uses of the land. If an abstract model can be considered,
values would be the rationale behind all decisions if no
institutional or external constraints existed.
are an important part of achieving the objects of the acts. For
example, object s6(a), Soil Act and s4(a) Pastoral Act are values as
they merely state that land must be seen as a crucial natural
resource. Similarly objects ss6(b) and (c), Soil Act and ss4(b) and
(c), Pastoral Act are concerned with recognition of past and future
degrading activities and which obviously, requires appropriate
values. Although both acts assume "values", it is clear
that legislation relying solely on such values would be useless.
the respective acts "ended" at s6, and s4 they would have
little substantive or practical effect. This is due to the fact that
values are not the sole determinant of behaviours, as has been
pointed out in relation to land use practices.
do not live in an ideal world and empirical evidence such as CSIRO's
rangeland research has shown that landowner attitudes do not
determine behaviour relating to the land. Values are a vital part of
the operation of land care legislation due to the nature of our
democratic system. However, as many researchers have shown,
uniformity espouse a conservation ethic and have done so for decades
yet have continued (and may well continue) to pursue unacceptable
land care practices (Lovejay and Napier, 1987).
Soil Act provides a clear example of the use of values as a basis for
land management. The Pastoral Act mirrors this reliance but to a
lesser extent. In terms of the actual practical operation of the Soil
Act, the reliance on values may be classified as follows:
the need for community involvement. The Soil Act relies more on this
than the Pastoral Act. For example, the composition of the Soil
Council (s14) comprises a diverse group of people including farmers,
environmentalists, ecologists and academics and therefore,
supposed to reflect diverse concerns.
TO THE LAND
Soil Act and s7, Pastoral Act states that there is a general duty to
the land owed by all landowners including the Crown. Note that it is
THE land, not THEIR land. S43(1) and 45(3), Soil Act and s43 Pastoral
("destocking orders") strengthens this duty by providing
that soil conservation orders and voluntary properly plans run with
the land against all successors in title. This effectively quashes
any idea that landowners and pastoralists have absolute control over
land upon reception of legal title.
FOR CO-OPERATION AND VOLUNTARY ACTION
refers to the idea that legal enforcement must be utilized only as a
last resort and is paramount in the Soil Act but not in the Pastoral
Act. S13, Soil Act states that the Minister may either aid landowners
in conservation programs (financial aid) or else help in the actual
carrying out of the program(s). S22(3) requires the Soil Council to
consult with local landowners and local government prior to any
recommendations to the Minister.
above provisions make it clear that the aim of the Soil Act is
cooperation between administrators and landowners, to have landowners
accept the underlying ethic without legal compulsion.
AS DEVELOPING APPROPRIATE VALUES
Royal Commission (NSW) and inquiries (SA and NSW) into pastoral land
management resulted in legal controls on pastoral lands use. The two
most important controls are the allowance of leaseholds only and
limitations on stock carrying capacities. However, the question
arises whether or not law can effectively determine land use.
Research would tend to indicate "yes, as there is a clear
difference between pastoral land uses on the South Australian side of
the border compared to the NSW side (Young, 1979).
NSW side is much more intensively developed and has been more subject
to overstocking and subsequent degradation caused largely by the
smaller holdings in the Western Division of NSW through the use of
the home maintenance area concept.
cannot "create" a value acceptable to the general
community. It may force people to respect a principle by threat of
retribution, yet this is not a value in the sense that it is held by
a majority of the community voluntarily. Rather, law is designed
primarily to regulate behaviour by various means for example,
economic incentives. The nature of
legislative power is that it may "define" those values upon
enactment of law .
is clearly a role that has a great deal of relevance in relation to
soil degradation. Law cannot create a soil conservation ethic but it
can (and should) develop that pre-existing ethic by definition of its
content, prioritising its importance and most importantly, requiring
that behaviour accompanying the ethic.
use of economics as a tool of environmental protection assumes that
certain environmentally unsound activities can only be conducted at
the economic cost to the landowner. For example, a farmer may
overcrop his /her land only if he/she is willing to pay extra costs
to do so. Economic theory presupposes the ability to price and the
landowner paying the price to treat the problem. However, this
approach fails to recognise a number of important points:
- Pollution an
land degradation is not site specific; economic regulation assumes a
landowner being able to pollute his/her area only, without affecting
- It is difficult
to fully cost and with any degree of certainty due to the nature and
interdependence of the natural environment. For example, to assess the
environmental cost of clearing a thousand trees would involve not only
aesthetic value and the cost of replanting, but also a consideration of
the multitude of species currently existing in those areas or relying
upon them for food or habitat.
assumes a perfect market whereby the "invisible hand of the
market" operates to allocate resources in an efficient ad wealth
maximising manner. However, such a perfect market does not exist to the
extent relied upon by many economists, especially in the area of
act relies on economic regulation to any real extent for example,
there is no significant reliance on "degradation taxes" or
other financial incentives not to degrade the land. The definition of
"capability" in s3, Soil Act mentions the "future
productivity" of the land implying that land quality does depend
to a small degree on economic measures of output. S13 empowers the
Minister to give financial assistance to landowners in the carrying
out of conservation programs, this being the clearest example of the
use of economic incentives in that Act.
also relates to "penalties" for non compliance with
district property plans and voluntary property plans (Soil Act) and
farm plans (Pastoral Act). Neither contain any specific provision for
penalty in relation to non compliance of the plans and would
therefore appear to rely on some notion of market forces dictating
the manner in which
will be penalised for non-compliance. The implicit idea is that it is
in the landowner's best economic interest to comply with district and
under the Pastoral Act there are strong controls on the future terms
and conditions of leases which can be used as a penalty for non
compliance on renewal or 'rollover" of the lease term every 14
years ss22, 26 and 19. It is preferable to ensure compliance with
such plans by way of specific penalties rather than to assume some
form of "market penalty" or the variation of lease terms .
The idea that the market will correct such failures by landowners is
clearly open to question, the most dangerous potential consequence
being further land degradation.
rent being paid for a pastoral lease should be a true market rent and
not a subsidised rent. Good land management dictates that a true
price be paid for public resources particularly in the case of
pastoral lands, where there are now a number of competing land uses.
practical method now being used by the department in determining rent
results in a rent which is far too low, less than market rent, and as
well the lessee enjoys payment in arrears - s22. The user of public
resources should pay the full price for the use of that land and
therefore, the rent should be a straight market rent.
clear definition of '"science" is required. In so far as
science refers to the scientific method and Newtonian mechanics, then
it cannot be used as a basis of controlling and preventing land
degradation. The reason is that such an approach presupposes the
divisibility of the problem of land degradation into distinct
constitute parts, each of which is open to investigation and ultimate
solution. This ignores the complexity and interdependence of the
natural environment. This Newtonian approach also leads to the
humanist assumption that individual problems will be solved by human
better definition of science is that which sees it not as method but
as embodying a set of virtues including objectivity, selflessness,
intellectual honesty and openness of mind . In this sense science has
a valuable part to play in achieving the objects of both acts,
especially pertaining to s6(d) (Soil Act) and ss 6, 41, 44 Pastoral
Act providing for a
of land degradation inquiry and monitoring.
provisions similarly presuppose some scientific inquiry. It is to be
noted that the reliance on science in the Soil Act is not as explicit
as in the Pastoral Act. S6, Pastoral Act refers to the use of
scientific principles in relation to pastoral lands but without
defining "scientific'. For reasons stated above, it is submitted
that this should be seen as
to the virtues of science as enabling a proper investigation of the
limitation of science here is that it should been seen as embodying
the virtues of inquiry into the land degradation problem and possibly
considering available ways of reducing further degradation yet should
not be seen as providing the ultimate solution to land degradation.
Human behaviour existed prior to land degradation and human behaviour
will be the only sure way of aiding the rehabilitation of land.
Pastoral and Soil Acts make interesting comparison in that the
Pastoral Act basically, uses compulsion to achieve it's objectives
whereas the Soil Act uses encouragement. It is the role of law that
has often been the most contentious issue in environmental protection
generally. Some have argued that law should not play a major part in
land degradation programs due to a number of reasons:
private ownership of land brought with it near absolute control over
use and management of that land. The liberalist idea was that a person
had rights to the land excluding all others including the state, with
some minor exceptions such as nuisance and waste.
- This however is
to confuse the concept of property (a legal fiction created by society)
and land (the natural or physical reality). Property rights are not to
be thought of as encompassing the right to degrade land. No one "owns
land; the land was there before the "owner' and will continue to be
there after the owner moves on.
- Law is said to
prevent the necessary cooperation between landowners and administrators
due to resentment on the part of landowners (Bradsen, 1991, 24). This
however, assumes draconian laws and administrators as well as stubborn
and ill-informed landowners. Clearly this is an unjustified assumption,
for if a landowner is supposed to be willing to adopt proper land care
practices on the basis of voluntary self interest (see below), why
would this attitude change if the same practices become law?
- The law need
not be blunt and uncompromising for this would defeat the underlying
- Law is said to
be unnecessary because once alerted to the problems of land
degradation, landowners will adopt proper land care practices as it is
their own best interests to do so. This idea has clearly been proven
incorrect on the basis of experience of voluntary land care programs,
even when landowners have all the requisite knowledge.
reasons basically underpin the voluntary approach to land degradation
issues in the post World War II era. The fact that the problem is
still with us reflects the failure of the voluntary/educational
approach and the dubious nature of the underlying rationale.
the specific objects of the acts law does have a role to play. For
example, objects ss6(a) and (b) Soil Act, dealing with recognising
the importance of land and the nature of past land use practices,
require law to show that the State is exercising its power under a
democratic mandate to declare certain practices unacceptable.
of pastoral lands have-been recognised as a problem from the turn of
the century for example, the NSW Royal Commission which lead to the
Western Lands Act 1901. If pastoral lands are to be continued as a
pastoral use compulsion or effective legal controls are necessary.
Further powers are cancellation of lease' or the imposition of fines"
in s37. However, the effect of s37 is somewhat mitigated by s39's
rates are still the most important single control and is enforced
under s43 notices to destock or take other action". However,
'values" and "economics' come into play in the form of
enforcement of stocking rates because of the expense and difficulty
of mustering all stock within a reasonable time, the necessary
allowance of stocking rates over the recommended maximum because of
seasonal factors, the mobility of stock today and that fact that most
pastoralists run their pastoral lease
are three important methods of land use control:
tenure could be allowed but with land control achieved by zonings and
compulsory management plans similar to the Mount Lofty Ranges
management plan. This option is not recommended because of the basic
unsustainability of the region and leasehold tenure does tend to
advertise that pastoral land uses are a privilege rather than a
concept of licensing the individual is a good concept. This would
require the pastoralist and landowner to complete an appropriate
course of instruction which could include new farming methods such as
sustainable agriculture and perhaps require a certain amount of
law focuses on the activity rather than the person as direct
regulation controls anybody engaged in the a particular land use.
best describes the current focus of the acts but the strong wording
and powers in the Pastoral Act are undermined by "value"
that is, non enforcement. For example, there has been only one s43
notice to destock since the inception of the act .
the western world where social and tribal mores are no longer
applicable, the law is essential to modify behaviour. "..(L)aws
tend to reflect rather than establish general social values" .
The law is used to stimulate and guide social reform.
pastoralists and landowners generally, are more concerned with
property rights having little concern with competing uses such as
recreation and tourism. Their main objective is to achieve freehold
tenure with no land use control. Studies have shown a large gap in
the values of the pastoralists and that of society.
there is such a gap it is necessary to have strong law and
enforcement of society's values concerning particularly, arid lands.
In recent years the "rules of the game" have changed and
where before, the only persons interested in arid lands were
pastoralists, today there are a large number of groups who have laid
some claim to arid lands. In the Hopgood Report, 31 different bodies
made representations concerning the pastoral lands which underlines
the proposition that pastoral land uses today should be "multiple
farm plans such as those promoted in the Soil Act lack coordination
and expertise being merely a "vague moral obligation". On
the other hand, the Pastoral Act is much more powerful. Once
prepared, such plans must be followed by the pastoralist. Enforcement
and control is obtained through the use of leasehold tenure with
and conditions being largely subject to the success or not the farm
two acts have different value and economic underpinnings which in
turn, influences the type of law and enforcement provisions. The
Pastoral Act is much more forceful than the Soil Act making
compliance with the farm plans mandatory. The Soil Act on the other
hand is basically, discretionary in both the operation and
enforcement of farm plans. The Soil Act therefore, is less effective
than the Pastoral Act and it is recommended that the law be made
stronger by making farm plans compulsory for all landowners and
effective penalties for non compliance.
Pastoral Act has commendable flexibility in allowing and encouraging
"multiple land uses" for example, "public access
routes" in s45 and non pastoral activities when leases fail due
for extension and variation - s25, s26.
crown lands - queensland