Agriculture industry fact sheet
This fact sheet provides an overview of the legal, operational and business issues relevant to the agriculture industry, which includes:
- growers (turf, flowers, vegetables, fruit, nuts, grain & other crops)
- farmers (sheep, cattle, poultry, deer and other livestock)
As well as the information in this factsheet, you should check our general business information for additional regulations and obligations relevant to your business. For further advice and assistance, contact your accountant, solicitor or business advisor.
See our topics on this page for detailed information on the agriculture industry:
- Key legislation & initiatives
- Licences & permits
- Finance & tax
- Levies & charges
- Workplace Health & Safety (WHS)
- Intellectual Property (IP)
- Industry training
- Key government organisations & websites
- Key advisors
- Industry groups
- Useful topics.
Industry research is an important part of planning for your business. It may uncover economic and industry trends, establish or improve your business and help you keep pace with your industry.
Key government sources for industry specific statistics on the agriculture industry include:
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
The Agriculture statistics section of the ABS website provides agricultural census data, commodity figures, water usage rates and other statistical information.
- Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) ABARES provides statistical publications on a range of agriculture and food related topics as well as regional profiles across Australia.
Legislation often plays a large part in how you run your business, so it’s important to be aware of the laws that apply to your industry. Key legislation that may affect businesses in the agriculture industry includes:
- Competition and Consumer Act 2010
- Australian Consumer Law (ACL)
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Illegal Logging legislation
- Animal welfare legislation
- Water legislation
- National Water Initiative
- Native title legislation
- Carbon Farming Initiative
- Horticulture code of conduct
You can have your say on government policy and regulation affecting the future of your industry by registering on the Business consultation website.
Licences and permits specific to the agriculture industry are often managed by state or territory governments and mainly relate to:
- water usage
- clearing vegetation
- disposal of waste
- fire management and safety
- handling livestock and animals
- erecting fencing, property or other structures
- handling, storage and use of chemicals or dangerous substances.
Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website to find out what licences and permits you need for your industry.
If you employ staff, you need to comply with Australia’s national workplace laws and the specific requirements in your industry:
- Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for awards specific to your industry.
- Read more on employment rights and obligations when hiring staff.
Apprentices and trainees
With flexible hours and on the job training, the agriculture industry lends itself easily to taking on apprentices and trainees. If you take on an apprentice or trainee, you can access a range of government support and financial help. See the Australian Apprenticeships Centre website to find out more.
There are a number of finance and tax measures specific to agriculture businesses, including:
- The Tax averaging for primary producers program helps primary producers even out their income over a maximum of five years.
- The Primary producers’ essentials page on the ATO website provides details on offsets, rebates, deductions, depreciation and disaster assistance measures.
To find more finance and tax guidance, take a look at:
- Record keeping in the primary production industry, for advice from the ATO about what records primary producers need to keep
- Taxation measures on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website, for information about tax offsets, tax deductions and tax concessions
- our general taxation information
- more detailed information on how to manage your finances.
Levies and charges are generally used to fund activities that benefit the industry or region as a whole. These activities can include research and development, marketing and promotion, plant and animal health programs and residue testing.
Agriculture products that attract levies include meat, wool, dairy, grains, sugar cane, horticulture, chickens, queen bees, livestock and wine/grapes. If you import or export meat or dairy there are also quota fees that will apply.
Visit the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources' Levies page to find out more about levies and whether they apply to your business.
Grants for the agriculture industry are available to support businesses that:
- conduct activities that are innovative
- conduct research and development activities
- need additional assistance due to exceptional circumstances
- engage in sustainable farming, carbon farming or other environmental practices.
Some specific grants and assistance programs for agriculture businesses include:
- Drought Assistance Concessional Loans – help farm businesses experiencing financial difficulty due to the effects of drought.
- Rural Financial Counselling Service – provides free financial counselling to eligible rural businesses experiencing financial hardship.
- Farm Management Deposits Scheme – helps farmers deal with uneven income due to common risks such as natural disasters, climate and market changes.
Search Grants & Assistance to find more grants and assistance programs for the agriculture industry.
As well as the general occupational health and safety regulations, there are also some state-specific WHS requirements relevant to the agriculture industry, including:
- workplace noise management
- standards for protective clothing and equipment
- standards for occupational safety signage
- manual handling safety standards
- quad bike safety practices
- electrical safety practices
- hay bale safety practices
- animal handling safety practices
- biosecurity measures.
Need help understanding your WHS obligations? Try these government resources:
- For industry specific WHS information, see the Agriculture page on the Safe Work Australia website.
- For details on your general health and safety obligations, visit Workplace Health and Safety.
- For state specific occupational health and safety information, see your state or territory workplace health and safety agency.
As well as compulsory insurance such as workers compensation, there are also a number of specific insurance options available for businesses in the agriculture industry.
Insurance options vary depending on your business type but can include insurance for farm equipment and machinery, property and buildings, vehicles, business interruption and even certain crops and livestock.
Visit Insurance and workers compensation for details on general insurance options for business.
As well as trade marks, there are other IP rights that may be relevant to agriculture businesses:
- Patents - Protects inventions such as new machinery, new systems or new processes.
- Plant Breeder's Right (PBR) – Protects new plant varieties and grants exclusive rights to the plant breeder to use, sell and distribute the plant and receive royalties.
IP Australia is the federal government agency responsible for granting rights in patents, trade marks and designs. Visit the IP Australia website to find out more about your IP options.
Industry training can be an important part of your business survival. New farming methods or strategies can often help to ease the environmental impacts on your business. Need some help getting started?
- See Training for tips on training yourself and your staff.
- Search Events to find government events, seminars, training courses and workshops.
Agriculture businesses often rely heavily on the environment. Deciding to make your business more environmentally friendly, for example through sustainable farming, waste reduction and off-setting emissions, can reduce your impact on the environment and improve your bottom line. The main environmental issues that businesses in the agriculture industry should be aware of include:
- reporting requirements
- waste management and reduction.
Visit Environmental management for advice on how you can manage your impact on the environment.
The key federal government agencies and websites relevant to the agriculture industry include:
- Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
- Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
- Department of the Environment
- Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
- Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)
- National pests & disease outbreaks website
- Murray-Darling Basin Authority
- Clean Energy Regulator
- Climate Change Authority
- National Water Market website.
The key state government agencies relevant to the agriculture industry include:
- ACT Territory and Municipal Services
- NSW Department of Primary Industries
- NT Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries
- QLD Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- SA Department of Primary Industries and Regions
- TAS Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
- VIC Department of Environment and Primary Industries
- WA Department of Agriculture and Food.
Business advisors can be a valuable tool when establishing and developing your business in your industry. Search Advisory Services to find one near you.
You may also wish to consult with an industry association or group for more information and advice on your industry.
Information that may be particularly relevant to the agriculture industry include:
See something not quite right? Let us know on our contact us page.