Fighting for our farmers' future

Thursday 30 May 2013

Coalition's Budget response forgets farmers too

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey’s address to the National Press Club on the Budget last week picked up where Opposition Leader Tony Abbott left off: a promise of a better future but not one mention of farmers or agriculture.

While we certainly welcome a number of promising commitments from the Coalition in these Federal Budget replies - namely axing the carbon tax, cutting red tape and putting in place fairer and more flexible workplace laws - we're disappointed that the Coalition failed to recognise the critical role our farmers play in Australia's economy.

The lack of reference to farmers in either of the Budget speeches came as a surprise to the NFF, given the Coalition has included agricultural exports as one of its five 'national economy pillars' in its Real Solutions for all Australians plan.

It's probably even more surprising given that it was at the NFF's National Congress in October that Mr Abbott said: "it’s very important that the farm sector be supported and encouraged by government, not hindered by it."

We hope to see greater commitment from the Coalition - and the Government - to the agricultural sector in the lead up to this year's Federal Election. For more, read our release.

Pictured below, NFF President Duncan Fraser with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at the NFF's National Congress in October 2012. Photo courtesy Colin Bettles, Fairfax Agricultural Media.

Industry Leaders drive Blueprint forward

Last week, some 100 key industry leaders from across the agricultural sector and its supply chain committed to work together to drive forward the sector’s Blueprint for Australian Agriculture.

Gathering in Canberra for the first time since the Blueprint was launched in February, industry leaders agreed to join forces to turn the agreed Blueprint priority goals into actions.

Of the goals identified by the Blueprint, the industry leaders selected four key goals that they wish to see action on today, to ensure the success of the Australian agriculture sector tomorrow:

  • Innovation, research, development, extension: Securing investment in, and developing a model to underpin, research, development and extension in Australian agriculture.
  • Competitiveness: Building the sector’s competitiveness and profitability through understanding our market opportunities and value chains to create growth, market access and future opportunities.
  • Agriculture within society: Telling the story of agriculture by building a common narrative about the sector, in order to better position agriculture in the minds of urban Australians, prospective employees and international markets.
  • Natural resources: Embedding sustainability as core business across agriculture and its supply chain.

The Blueprint is an initiative of the NFF, along with partners Westpac, Woolworths, Bayer and Syngenta Australia. For more, read the communiqué from last week's meeting, or visit the Blueprint webpage.

Food Plan: What does it mean for farmers?

A day after the Blueprint forum in Canberra, the Federal Government released the long-awaited plan for the future of Australia's food sector, the National Food Plan.

The Plan is designed to help Australian food businesses overcome their diverse challenges and benefit from emerging markets in Asia. It's an ambitious goal, so to ensure it remains relevant, and beneficial, to our farmers, the NFF set a series of direct challenges to the Government: things we wanted to see included in the Food Plan.

And we're pleased to note that the Government listened:

  • We asked for collaboration between the agricultural sector and the Government on the creation of brands to promote Australian production. Minister Ludwig announced $2 million to develop a brand identity for Australian food and related technology.
  • We asked the Government to ensure that work is done beyond the farm gate to improve opportunities for farmers to sell their produce. The Minister announced $28.5 million for research to tackle roadblocks to export.
  • We asked the Government to ensure that investment is made into technical capacity – ensuring that we build strong relationships with our key markets. The Minister announced $5.6 million to build relationships with trading partners.
  • We asked for competitiveness and benchmarking tools to drive an increase in productivity across the supply chain, including a review of red tape. The Government has said it will invest in a Productivity Commission review to identify priority areas of reform of food supply regulations, from paddock to plate.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we asked the Government to play a role in working with agriculture to improve consumers' understanding and perception of agriculture. We welcome the inclusion of $1.5 million to develop resources and provide professional development to support teaching about food and agriculture through the Australian curriculum, as a starting point.

For more, read our release.

Banks pass on some rate relief

Three weeks after the RBA cut interest rates to a record low, the majority of financial lenders have passed the rate cut on to their agribusiness customers, the NFF Agribusiness Loan Monitor shows.

The May Monitor, released today, shows that five of the seven term loans tracked – from ANZ, BankSA, BankWest, NAB and Suncorp – have each had their rates cut by the full 0.25 percent. CommBank meanwhile has passed on 0.20 percent, with only Bendigo Bank making no change to their rates.

In overdrafts, five of the eight lenders – ANZ, BankSA, BankWest, NAB and Westpac – have each passed on the 0.25 percent rate cut to their agribusiness customers, with CommBank passing on 0.20 percent. Only Bendigo Bank and Suncorp failed to pass on any rate cut to their overdraft customers.

For more, read our release or view the May Agribusiness Loan Monitor.

The NFF AGvocate
Issue 36

In this issue

Coalition's Budget response forgets farmers too

Industry Leaders drive Blueprint forward

Food Plan: What does it mean for farmers?

Banks pass on some rate relief

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