Culinary herb and spice levy consultation resumes

The Australian Herb and Spice Industry Association (AHSIA) is inviting all industry participants to consider and comment on a proposal to implement a statutory research and development levy for the national culinary herb and spice industry. The levy proposal consultation process has now resumed, having been suspended during the Federal election campaign.

AHSIA President Robert Hayes says the proposed levy will underpin the implementation of the Research and Development Strategy for the Australian Herb and Spice Industry 2006-2011, an initiative the industry has been discussing and planning since 2006.

In summary, the proposed R&D levy is modelled on existing levy arrangements, and is an ad valorem figure of 0.5 % (i.e. half of one percent) of the value of the product at the first point of sale, calculated as follows:

• Domestic Levy 0.5% of the gross sale value at first point of sale.
• Export Charge 0.5% of the ‘free on board’ (FOB) value.

This equates to 50 cents out of $100 of produce sold, or 1 cent on a $2 sale.

Mr Hayes says the target commencement date for the proposed R&D levy is 1 July, 2011.

“The proposed levy will be payable on all culinary herbs and spices, whether fresh bunched, with or without roots, sleeved, potted, processed or dried, produced and sold primarily for human consumption,” he said.

The exceptions are parsley, shallots, chilli, and ginger. Parsley, shallots and chilli are currently subject to the vegetable levy, and ginger has a separate levy process underway. If there is sufficient interest, AHSIA would need to negotiate any proposed change of levy coverage with DAFF and Ausveg.

Potted plants, including herbs and spices are leviable nursery products, and as such, are liable to pay a ‘pot levy’. These funds are applied to nursery and garden industry marketing, research and development purposes. Given potted herbs will also benefit from the research to be funded through the proposed herb and spice levy, it is envisaged that these and spices will be included in the coverage of the proposed herb levy.

“It is not intended to include medicinal herbs and spices, nor Australian native plant industry products in this levy proposal, however, AHSIA would be pleased to receive advice from industry participants on their interest in the proposed levy funded R&D programs and coverage under a biosecurity levy,” Mr Hayes said.

In the discussion paper sent to registered industry participants, AHSIA also presents the case for strengthening industry biosecurity arrangements through AHSIA becoming a member of Plant Health Australia (PHA), by signing the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD), and by implementing an Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy for the herb and spice industry, collected under the Plant Health Australia (Plant Industries) Funding Act 2002. This is often referred to as a ‘biosecurity levy’.

Registered industry participants who have not received the discussion paper by direct mail are urged to register their contact details with the AHSIA secretariat to ensure they receive future levy communications, including details of registration arrangements for the levy ballot.

Herb and spice industry participants are invited to make written submissions on the issues raised in the discussion paper. Submissions must be received by close of business on Monday, 29 November, 2010.

Information sessions have been re-scheduled through to mid-November to ensure potential levy payers have a first-hand opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the levy proposal. Additional sessions will be arranged as required to ensure all herb and spice industry participants have ample opportunity to consider the levy proposal and to have their say.

The levy consultation process will conclude with a secret ballot of eligible voters to be undertaken by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) after information sessions have been completed. For further information on the levy proposal, consultation process and levy ballot, go to the AHSIA website (http://web.ahsia.org.au).

For further comment on the herb and spice industry levy proposal contact:
Levy Proposal Facilitator
Peter McFarlane,
McFarlane Strategic Services
Email: peter@mc.com.au

AHSIA Board of Management
President, Robert Hayes (Freshzest Pty Ltd)
Email: r.hayes@freshzest.com.au


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