31 August 2022

A bright future for agriculture: DAFF joins the digital revolution

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has launched a new online Export Service. The service makes it quicker and easier for export businesses to do their work.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) plays a vital but often overlooked role in Aussie exports. It negotiates the technical access requirements for importing agricultural goods into another country. Having agreed on the logistic requirements, it’s then up to DAFF to regulate Aussie exporters. 

‘We regulate to help Australian businesses prosper,’ says David Hazlehurst, Deputy Secretary of the Agricultural Trade Group at DAFF. ‘Through our international network of Agriculture Counsellors, and digital tools, we want to make it as easy as possible for exporters to comply with the requirements of another country. Otherwise, their goods won’t be accepted at the other end.’ 

DAFF has sponsored the Australian Export Awards for 7 years. ‘It is fantastic to see the level of commitment and innovation that our regional exporters are contributing to Australian agriculture,’ says Hazlehurst. 

‘As a longstanding supporter of the Awards’ regional exporter category, we are proud to recognise the outstanding work that these businesses do in promoting growth in regional Australia.’ 

The future is digital for export regulation

Hazlehurst says that in 2022, you can’t think about regulation without thinking digital as ‘the two don’t exist in isolation.’ 

DAFF recently launched the new online agriculture Export Service. The service allows registered businesses to start conducting their transactions with the department digitally. 

As part of the streamlined service, Aussie exporters can look forward to:

  • simpler and reduced touchpoints with DAFF
  • more autonomy in completing regulatory requirements for export
  • automated, paperless documentation and reporting
  • more export opportunities based on risk and return
  • simpler ways to comply, meaning less unintentional non-compliance. 

‘The world is complex enough, and markets are changing and changeable,’ says Hazlehurst. 

‘If we’re able to be more responsive as a regulator, exporters will be able to respond faster to changes, too.’ 

Building resilience through digital transformation

In the next 12 months, Hazlehurst says DAFF’s work will increase the security and resilience of digital systems crucial to keeping Australia’s goods moving across the globe. It will help businesses spend less time and money dealing with government. 

‘A digital and regulatory partnership means DAFF’s export offerings are more effective, efficient, and valuable to those who use them,’ he says. ‘The move better empowers exporters to get on with business.’ 

DAFF predicts the Export Service will benefit industry by allowing them to get their products to market faster and with reduced administrative effort.

Making life easier for honey and dairy exporters

The digital service is still in its infancy. DAFF is intentionally building in increments, releasing new features often so they can start adding value immediately. ‘It’s already making life easier for people who are using it,’ says Hazlehurst. 

One of the improvements enables self-service capabilities for dairy and honey exporters. Businesses choosing self-service can request export permits and certificates from the department directly. 

This means they no longer need to purchase software or rely on agents to act on their behalf. It empowers exporters, giving them better visibility and control of their export journey. It also removes the need for manual documentation.

Images courtesy of Austrade

From paddock to plane: a Future Traceability Hub 

'The work being done around traceability is particularly exciting,' says Hazlehurst. 

‘Connecting data sources so we can easily say “we know where this shipment has come from and can trace it right back to the grower” is a game changer.’ 

DAFF’s Future Traceability Hub is currently looking at organic red meat certification. The project will identify traceability pain points and use data to improve this system. This project can also be scaled up to include other credentials, like grass-fed or sustainable production. 

‘We expect this project will provide us with insights to inform data standards and future-ready systems,’ says Hazlehurst. 

A bright future for the agriculture sector

Hazlehurst notes that agricultural trade reform involves making improvements across all the pieces of the trade puzzle. 

‘We’ve learned a lot in building the Export Service,’ he says. ‘We’re sharing what we’ve learned with other departments through the Simplified Trade System initiative'. 

‘This digital transformation and related trade reform work are critical. They will support our agriculture sector to meet its Agriculture 2030 goal of $100 billion in farm‑gate returns. We’re proud to support farmers, producers and exporters to meet this goal.’

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