Agricultural and veterinary chemicals are used to protect crops, livestock and other animals and plants from unwanted weeds, pests and diseases.
They include pesticides, such as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, and veterinary medicines.
Agricultural and veterinary chemicals help agricultural industries to be more productive, improve produce quality and be more competitive on world markets.
Land owners have a responsibility to manage chemicals on their property in a way that does not adversely affect their neighbours and to ensure clean produce for consumers.
Legal obligations and community concerns regarding the use of chemicals in the environment and in food put ever-increasing pressure on farmers to use chemicals safely and responsibly.
Using a product in accordance with the label instructions should ensure that agricultural produce meets the domestic standards and this supports clean agriculture.
The Victorian control of use system has been designed to enhance Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).
By monitoring compliance with the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 and its associated regulations, Victoria can demonstrate responsible farm chemical use.
The main rules
There are legislative restrictions regarding the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals and the supply and use of certain high risk chemicals.
Some registered chemicals are prohibited from use in certain circumstances, or may only be used by persons holding specific licences.
- For example, off-label use refers to situations when a chemical is used in a manner that is not specified on the chemicals product label. In certain circumstances, the off-label use of a chemical may not be illegal in Victoria.
- Chemical use licences and permits are required to authorise the use of certain chemicals in certain circumstances (e.g. Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP), Commercial Operators Licence).
- It is an offence to undertake agricultural spraying that results in damage to or contamination of plants, produce or stock outside the target area. Causing off-target spray drift is an offence under various Acts.
- Notification laws apply when spraying agricultural chemicals by air or mister within 200 metres of a school, hospital, aged-care service or childrens service such as a kindergarten or child-care centre.
- Regulations specify certain equipment (relating to wind speed and direction) must be used immediately before and during aerial spraying.
- Restrictions apply to types of herbicides, their method of application and the periods in which certain chemicals can be applied in Agricultural Chemical Control Areas (ACCAs).
- It is compulsory to make and keep specific chemical use records.
Visit the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Chemical Standards website, www.dpi.vic.gov.au/chemicalstandards for more information.