Hort Innovation works with industry to invest the onion levy and Australian Government contributions into initiatives to help growers be as productive and profitable as possible, through the Hort Innovation Onion Fund.

What is the onion levy?

The levy is payable on onions that are produced in Australia and either sold by the producer or used by the producer in the production of other goods. Hort Innovation manages the onion levy funds portion directed to R&D set at $2.90 per tonne and the marketing levy, which is set at $1.00 per tonne.

These levies are collected by the Australian Government and then entrusted to Hort Innovation. It is then Hort Innovation’s responsibility to work with industry to invest the levy – together with Australian Government funds in the case of R&D – into strategic R&D and marketing initiatives.

You can find full details on the levy rates, plus information on how to lodge a return and makea payment with the Departmentof Agriculture and Water Resources, at agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/farm-fooddrought/levies/rates/onion.

How are levy investment decisions made?

Investments specific to the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund are guided by the industry’s Strategic Investment Plan  (SIP) and Annual Investment Plan (AIP). SIPs provide an overarching roadmap for industry to follow, and AIPs detail how levy dollars will be spent each year to achieve industry goals.

What is the onion Strategic Investment Plan (SIP)?

The onion SIP 2022-2026 is the roadmap that helps guide Hort Innovation’s oversight and management of the onion investment program. The SIP lays the foundation for decision making in levy investments and represents the balanced interests of the onion industry. The most  important function of the SIP is to makesure that levy investment decisions align with industry priorities.

  • In 2021, the onion SIP was refreshed to reflect the current needs of the onion industry. The refresh involved close consultation with growers, industry participants and the wider research community. The onion SIP details the industry’s strategic goals centered around four outcome areas:
  • demand creation;
  • industry supply, productivity and sustainability;
  • extension and capability; and
  • business insights.

Under each of those outcomes, there are industry-specific strategies and key performance indicators that provide guidance on how the onion industry will work towards achieving the outcomes.

What is the onion Annual Investment Plan?

While the onion SIP provides an oversight of investment over the next five years, the onion AIP explains how levy funds are going to be invested during a twelve month period. AIPs are developed each year by Hort Innovation, informed by the SIP and industry consultation, and then discussed with the industry Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) for feedback and prioritisation. Investment decisions will be based on potential industry impact, as well as availability of levy funds.

The AIP provides detailed information on:

  • Funding availability;
  • How the onion industry is investing against their SIP outcomes;
  • Details on current investments across R&D and marketing.

Where do investment ideas come from?

There are many avenues that investment ideas come through – such as growers, delivery partners, previous  projects, research networks, industry bodies, regional extension plans, and extension personnel. Before any ideas are progressed, Hort Innovation will investigate whether investment aligns  with the SIP and if it is needed in this area.

How are investments prioritised?

To gain industry insights for strategic levy investments, Hort Innovation consults with growers through the onion Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP). The onion SIAP consists of industry supply chain stakeholders, most of whom are levy-paying growers.

Panels also include industry representative body representation and, where applicable, a lead agency representative from within the National Horticulture Research Network. The SIAP is in place to discuss investment ideas, in order to provide advice to Hort Innovation on potential  levy investments. The advice they give is guided by the industry’s SIP. The SIAP provides a vital link between meeting the priorities of industry and helping Hort Innovation to make decisions on how, where and when investments need to be made.

Hort Innovation develops draft investment recommendations based on investment ideas that are aligned to the onion SIP. Each recommendation includes high-level information on the aims of the project, outcomes, deliverables and budget. The recommendations are then taken to the relevant advisory panel for feed back and prioritisation based on potential impact and available funding. Details of projects that will be progressing are then featured in the AIP.

How are investments progressed?

After the investment has been prioritised, it’s then up to Hort Innovation to initiate the project. This involves a tender process where the best delivery partner is chosen to undertake the project. Each delivery partner needs to submit regular milestones that report on their progress and at the end of each investment, a final report is produced that is made available to industry on what the project has achieved.

How to keep track of investments

Investments in the Hort Innovation Onion Fund are detailed in the Your investments page of the Onion Fund section of Hort Innovation’s website. Resources that are produced by the projects – such as fact sheets and guides – are also available through the Research reports and more page. Hort Innovation also sends alerts about project updates to its members. Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a Hort Innovation member, but signing up is free. The levy-funded communications program, run through the investment Accelerating the adoption of best management practices for the Australian onion industry (VN21000), also provides regular information on levy-funded activity.

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Onion Fund and an extension of two projects – Australian onions nutrition literature review (VN18002) and the Onions food service farm tour and education pilot (VN18000).