The nursery levy (sometimes known as the pot levy) is a way of generating funds to invest in the research, development and marketing of the nursery industry. The aim of these investments is to advance the Australian nursery industry and ensure its capability, profitability, and longevity.
The nursery sector is one of 37 horticultural industries including growers of fruit, vegetables and nuts paying a voluntary levy of this kind.
How does the levy system work?
Introduced in October 1989, the nurseries payable the levy on potted plants that are produced and sold in Australia. The levy is based on the sale price of the plant pot. Currently, the levy is calculated at 5% of the value of each container.
The government allocates the levy to one of two investment funds: research and development (R&D) and marketing. The money growers contribute to the R&D fund is matched dollar for dollar by the government. The marketing fund does not receive matching funding.
In 2020–21, the government collected $3.19 million in nursery levies for investment.
What role does the government play?
The Australian government collects the levy, tops it up with matching funding and then entrusts it to Hort Innovation. Hort Innovation is a research and development corporation whose role it is to work with each levy-paying sector to determine how the levy should be invested.
How are investment decisions made?
Until now, Hort Innovation has managed the levy investment process. While levy payers have been involved, many growers have felt distant from investment decisions and uncertain about how the system works.
Earlier this year, Hort Innovation announced a significant development. From now on, the nursery sector’s national peak body will manage the investment process. The aim of this change is to involve levy payers more directly in the investment decision making process and to ensure that outcomes are communicated widely and transparently.
In the future, investment proposals in R&D and marketing will be considered by two expert panels, drawn from the nursery sector. We will manage panel meetings; Hort Innovation will govern them; and an appropriately qualified professional who is independent of both organisations will chair them.
Both GIA and Hort Innovation will communicate decisions about which investment proposals are supported and how the projects that receive funding are progressing.
For the first time, state nursery associations will be involved in helping to generate investment ideas and communicate the outcomes of projects that receive investment funding.