Understanding the GRDC Enterprise Agreement for Australian grain growers
If you are a grain grower in Australia, you may have heard of the GRDC Enterprise Agreement, or GEA, which is an industry-wide agreement between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the National Farmers` Federation (NFF) that covers the use of levies for research and development (R&D) activities in the grains sector. In this article, we will explain what the GEA is, how it works, and what it means for you as a grower who contributes to the levy.
What is the GRDC Enterprise Agreement?
The GRDC Enterprise Agreement is a legally binding contract between the GRDC and the NFF that sets out the terms and conditions for the collection and expenditure of the grains levy, which is a statutory charge imposed on growers under the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999. The levy is used to fund R&D projects that aim to improve the profitability, productivity, and sustainability of the grains industry, as well as to promote the adoption of best practices and technologies by growers.
The GEA was first established in 2012, after extensive consultations with industry stakeholders, and has been renewed every five years since then, with the latest version coming into effect on 1 July 2021 and expiring on 30 June 2026. The GEA covers all grains levy-paying growers who produce any of the following crops: wheat, barley, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, field peas, lupins, oats, and sorghum. The levy rate varies for each crop and is currently set at 30 cents per tonne for wheat and barley, 40 cents per tonne for canola, and 50 cents per tonne for other crops.
How does the GRDC Enterprise Agreement work?
Under the GEA, the GRDC is responsible for managing the collection, administration, and distribution of the grains levy, which is collected by the Australian Government through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and remitted to the GRDC on a quarterly basis. The GRDC also oversees the selection, funding, and monitoring of R&D projects that are aligned with the strategic priorities of the grains industry and the objectives of the GEA.
The NFF, on the other hand, represents the interests of growers in the negotiation of the GEA with the GRDC and provides feedback and guidance on the implementation and evaluation of the R&D projects. The NFF also appoints two grower directors to the GRDC Board, who are responsible for ensuring that the GRDC operates in the best interests of levy-paying growers and delivers value for money.
The GEA includes a number of governance and accountability mechanisms to ensure that the levy is used efficiently and effectively, such as:
– A Levy Payer Register that enables growers to check their levy payments and register to vote in the GRDC levy payer elections.
– A Five-Year Strategic Plan that outlines the major R&D priorities and outcomes that the GEA aims to achieve, based on industry consultation and analysis of market trends and challenges.
– A Project Investment Process that involves a competitive selection of R&D projects based on their scientific merit, industry relevance, and potential impact on growers, and their alignment with the strategic priorities and available funding of the GEA.
– A Portfolio Review Process that evaluates the performance and effectiveness of the R&D projects funded under the GEA, based on their progress against the agreed milestones and outcomes, their value for money, and their contribution to the overall goals of the GEA.
– A Levy Payer Communication Program that aims to inform and engage growers about the activities and outcomes of the GEA, through various channels such as newsletters, websites, events, and surveys.
What does the GRDC Enterprise Agreement mean for growers?
As a grower who pays the grains levy, the GEA affects you in several ways:
– You have a say in the governance of the GRDC and the allocation of the levy, through the election of grower directors and the submission of feedback and proposals to the NFF and the GRDC.
– You benefit from the knowledge, technologies, and practices generated by the R&D projects that are funded by the GEA, which can help you to improve the quality, yield, and profitability of your crops, as well as to mitigate risks associated with pests, diseases, climate variability, and market volatility.
– You are accountable for the levy you pay, which is a legal obligation that can be enforced by the ATO. However, you also have the right to challenge the accuracy or validity of the levy, through the dispute resolution process provided by the GEA.
In summary, the GRDC Enterprise Agreement is a significant arrangement that shapes the R&D landscape of the Australian grains industry and affects the livelihoods of thousands of growers who rely on the levy to fund their research needs. By understanding the GEA and participating in its governance and communication processes, growers can ensure that their levy is used effectively and efficiently, and that their interests are represented and respected.