The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) met today for the first time with new Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, Hon David Littleproud MP.
NFF President Fiona Simson said the NFF was pleased to host Minister Littleproud at the Federation’s Canberra headquarters to discuss the priority issues for the sector.
“As the peak body for Australian farming, the NFF represents 31 members including state farming, commodity, agribusiness and special interest groups.
“On behalf of farmers, we valued the chance to have a lengthy sit-down with the Minister so early in the new year,” Ms Simson said.
The NFF President said there were a number of ‘big ticket’ items on the agriculture agenda for 2018.
“Issues like energy, water, land-use management, trade and market access, labour, telecommunications, digital connectivity and the opportunities of ‘ag-tech’ need to be progressed by Government and industry if agriculture is to continue to grow and prosper.”
Ms Simson said the NFF had a goal for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030 – a 67% per cent increase on the 2016-2017 production value of $60 billion.
“Our discussion with the Minister centred on this ambitious, but we believe, achievable objective.
“In particular we took the opportunity to reiterate the need to sure up the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“During 2017, the Plan came under warranted scrutiny and processes are now in train to address the areas of concern raised.
“It is absolutely crucial that these processes are allowed to run their course and that in the meantime, all Basin jurisdictions work together to see the plan delivered on-time and in-full.
“Farmers, regional communities and the environment deserve no less.”
The need for energy policy certainty and an approach that delivers energy reliability, affordability and sustainability was also discussed.
“We explained the very real impact rising electricity prices are having on farmers.
“Some farm businesses are facing power bill increases of 100% or more.
These types of increases are very hard to absorb for any business.”
Ms Simson said market access was also on the agenda.
“As an export dominated industry, trade must be a part of any conversation about the future of agriculture.
“We had a wide-ranging discussion about the key trade priorities and opportunities for agriculture including the need to vigorously tackle non-tariff trade barriers and to pursue trade agreements with the United Kingdom, the European Union, India and of course, Indonesia.”
“We spoke directly about India’s concerning move to raise chickpea and lentil tariffs.”
Ms Simson said most importantly, the meeting was a chance for the NFF, to establish a rapport and a productive relationship with the Minister.
“The NFF is the ‘voice of Australian farmers’ and Minister Littleproud is the 'chief advocate' for farmers in Parliament.
“Based on today’s conversation, I believe, together, we can achieve highly valuable outcomes for our sector.
“The NFF looks forward to working with Minister Littleproud in 2018 and beyond," Ms Simson said.