The National Farmers Federation (NFF) is disappointed at recent Federal Government action which seems to worryingly signal that Australia is preparing to accept unreasonable and illegitimate demands by the European Union (EU) to impose European regulations on Australian farmers.
“Farmers are concerned by the idea of having to adopt EU regulations that dictate to what we can and can’t call our produce, based on nonsensical links between generic product names and regions where they have been traditionally produced,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
The Government has initiated consultations seeking feedback on the changes to Australia’s regulation that could accommodate the EU’s request to extend its protections of Geographical Indications (GIs) to Australia.
GI protections will essentially forbid Australian producers from using generic terms such as feta, brie and scotch beef.
“Over many decades, Australia has developed a system of trademarks and intellectual property, consistent with best practice globally, to govern what businesses can and cannot call their products or services. We should resist undermining this.”
“Farmers and food processors have spent many years and millions of dollars to build brands and trademarks using these common terms. A ban on using these terms will destroy these years of hard work.”
While the consultation paper explicitly states that the Australian Government has made no commitment to accept the EUs demands, it is not the right signal to be sending to the EU.
“This is a worrying development. Giving in to the EU’s demands on this issue, would cause untold harm to Australia’s food and agricultural sectors,” Ms Simson said.
“The Government must put the interests of our farmers and food processors first.”