Tuesday 4 December, 2012
Banks urged to pass on rate cuts
The NFF has welcomed today’s announcement by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) that interest rates will be cut by 25 basis points, bringing the official cash rate to three percent for the first time since April 2009.
This is very welcome news for the agricultural sector, and the NFF has called on the banks to pass the full rate cut on to farmers.
Today's rate cut comes following the October cut of 25 basis points and the release of the November NFF Agribusiness Loan Monitor, which shows that only one bank has passed the full cut on to its agribusiness customers. For more, read the NFF's media release re today's cut, or view the NFF's November Agribusiness Loan Monitor.
Basin Plan becomes law
On Thursday 22 November, Minister Burke signed the long-awaited and hard-fought Murray-Darling Basin Plan into law. The NFF joined with the National Irrigators' Council and NSW Irrigators' Council to jointly respond to the Plan in a press conference immediately following the Minister's speech at the National Press Club.
The NFF believes that although the plan remains flawed, it is pretty clear that the Government has listened to the concerns of the NFF, farmers and regional communities on some, but not all, of the critical issues in the Basin Plan. Essentially, we believe that the Plan is still far from perfect, however it is positive to see that the Government has listened to our concerns in reaching its compromised position. For more, read our media release.
Last week, during the final Parliamentary sitting week for 2012, Minister Burke tabled the Basin Plan in Parliament, where three disallowance motions were voted down, meaning the Plan now stands as law. The focus now moves to implementation.
Native Title claims stalled
In a move that has angered farmers and landholders, the Federal Government has extended its cost cutting to native title, with a decision to cease funding to respondents in native title claims from the beginning of next year.
The NFF is calling on the Government to review the decision, ensuring respondents have equal access to justice as claimants in the native title claim process. Farmers have been willing participants in native title claims since 1996 under a system that, to date, ensures both the claimant and the respondent have fair and equal access to assistance and legal representation.
However, the decision by the Government means that from 1 January 2013, only native title claimants will continue to receive government support in having their claims heard. Respondents will now be left to foot the hefty bills for legal representation themselves or be left to represent themselves, creating inequality between the treatment of claimants and respondents. For more, read our media release or view our submission to the Government.
TPP trade negotiations kick off
NFF President Jock Laurie and General Manager, Policy Tony Mahar will this week travel to Auckland to take part in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations.
Ahead of the trip, the NFF has joined with the Federated Farmers of New Zealand to jointly call for a truly comprehensive and liberalising TPP agreement from day one of implementation. It's time for real action and the removal of all blocks to free trade, say the two peak agricultural bodies. For more, read our joint media release.
The NFF and FFNZ call comes on the day that the Federal Government announces reforms to Australia's anti-dumping system, to strengthen protections for Australia against unfair competition from overseas. The NFF has welcomed the reform, with Australian farmers highly dependent on a rigorous anti-dumping system so that we can continue to compete on a level playing field against foreign produce, while also remaining compliant with the World Trade Organisation trade rules.
From cows to the classroom
Last week, NFF President Jock Laurie swapped his workboots for a schoolbook when he headed back to school in Melbourne.
Jock, a lamb, wool and cattle grower from Walcha, visited the 160 students of Level 1 and 2 at Antonio Park Primary in Mitcham, after the NFF received a number of letters from the students who are learning about farmers and farming.
While at the school, Jock donated to the class a copy of the Yum Yum... Where Does It Come From? children's book, written, illustrated and published by three rural women, Cathie Colless, Emily Colless and Deb Murray, to highlight where food and fibre comes from as well as the significance of farmers. Woolworths also kindly donated 160 apples for the students to enjoy, which were delivered to the school directly from the farm of Montague Fresh at Harcourt, near Bendigo. For more, read our media release.
Pictured below, some of the letters sent to the NFF from the students at Antonio Park Primary. Photos from Jock's visit to the school will appear in tomorrow's Weekly Times newspaper.
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