On 25th October I travelled to Canberra to attend the National Farmers Federation (NFF) members council. I would like to extend congratulations to David Jochinke for being elected the new President. John Hassell who will end his term as a Director of WoolProducers Australia at our upcoming AGM will be the new NFF Vice President.
It was surprising to hear that the NFF has now grown to 40 staff. It was not that long ago that they had 12. While the NFF remains focused on their core policy and advocacy, much of the expanded workforce is focused on projects such as the Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework, Regional Tech Hub and creating pathways to get new people (young and city-based) into Agriculture.
The $50 million Biosecurity Protection tax (levy) that is about to be introduced by the federal government will be taken directly out of farmers pockets. For wool growers it will be an extra tax. We, woolgrowers already pay some of the highest levies compared to other livestock industries. It was pleasing to see the united NFF membership opposition to this tax (levy). See the WoolProducers Biosecurity Protection Levy submission.
There is no doubt the NFF Sustainable Development and Climate Change Committee will need to continue to work hard to address emerging challenges for Australian agriculture. The quote from Angus Atkinson who chairs this committee “it’s coming quicker than a freight train”, sums up the situation facing all producers at the moment. There is certainly a lot to consider and it is concerning that at present there are no financial rewards for farmers who invest in maintaining, restoring or even increasing the natural capital on their property.
A new NFF “Keep Farmers Farming” campaign was launched on 26th October. In partnership with member organisations, the campaign will highlight the multitude of policy pressures currently facing our industry. Examples include the live sheep export phase out, the implementation of EID for sheep and goats, proposed industrial relations laws, water buy backs and land use, just to name a few.
These pressures combined with dry seasonal conditions, low commodity prices and increasing finance and input costs are providing challenging times to farmers. It is important to remember that while we have all faced hard times before and have proven that we are resilient, that help is available if needed, even if that is just someone to talk to.
Finally, National Agriculture Day is November 17th. While there are a number of emerging challenges and pressures ahead for Australian agriculture, National Agriculture Day will provide a time for us all to pause and reflect on all that is good about our amazing industries.