The future of Australian agriculture finally became an election issue last week, with the major parties turning their focus to the farm sector.
Foreign investment emerged as an issue from the third Leaders' Debate, following comments by both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, while Nationals' Leader Warren Truss launched the Coalition's formal agriculture policy and Greens Senator Rachel Siewert talked soil health.
Some of the key announcements made by the major parties include:
- Appoint an independent mediator to help negotiate a food and grocery code of conduct.
- Develop a set of standardised contracts for produce supply.
- Develop 20 Trade Training Centres, located in regional and rural Australia, dedicated to offering vocational and training opportunities for the ag sector
- $6.5 million to be invested in an Aussie Food Jobs campaign, with a marketing strategy to be developed in partnership with the NFF.
- The establishment of a Centre for Rural and Regional Futures.
- A $10 million program to help drive productivity and competitiveness of vegetable farmers who supply the Simplot processing plant in Tasmania.
- $25 million investment to help SPC Ardmona continue to upgrade their processing plant in Shepparton; and
- A $14.75 million boost to the Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme.
- Increase the Federal Government's contribution to R((D by $100 million))
- Commit $15 million to rebates for small exporters;
- Commit $20 million to strengthen biosecurity and quarantine;
- Provide $8 million towards minor use chemical permits, plus a promise to remove the mandatory re-registration of chemicals;
- Reinstate $2.2 million for native title respondents; and
- Allocate $2 million to agricultural education, helping to embed agriculture into the national curriculum.
- Fund the national soil health strategy, to the tune of $75 million to help protect agricultural land from soil degradation - offset by the Greens continued push to end Australia's livestock export trade.
With only two days remaining until the nation heads to the polls, the NFF has released the final election scorecard, ranking the major parties on their commitments to Australian agriculture.
The release of the initial scorecard on 20 August contained some surprising results, given little had been said about agriculture in the election campaign at that stage. But since then, we have finally seen movement from the major parties - albeit to varying degrees - regarding their agricultural policies.
Our new scorecard reflects the announcements made over the last two weeks, rating the parties on their commitments, their capacity to deliver and their broader policy stance on issues facing farmers.
So who came out on top? Check out the scorecard here.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has kept interest rates on hold this month, following last month's cut to the historic low of 2.5 percent.
Disappointingly, only four out of the seven banks tracked for term loans passed on the RBA's August cut in full, and only five of the eight banks tracked for overdrafts passed the cut on also.
This comes after a recently released NAB report showing that, despite favourable conditions for agribusinesses, such as improving weather in some regions and a falling Aussie dollar, rural confidence is still low. This is due in some part to the fact that not all banks have passed on the RBA cut in full to their customers, who need the financial relief.
We will continue to urge all banks to pass on the full 0.25 percent cut to their agribusiness customers. For more, read the NFF release here, or download the August Agribusiness Loan Monitor here.
The NFF's flagship publication - our Annual Review - has just been released for 2012-13.
Featuring reports from our Immediate Past President Jock Laurie, current President Duncan Fraser and CEO Matt Linnegar, plus the NFF policy and public affairs portfolio managers, the Annual Review is the definitive guide to the NFF's key wins and achievements over the past year.
From having the then Prime Minister and Opposition Leader address the NFF's National Congress to launching the first ever industry-developed strategic plan, the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture, to securing wins for farmers on major policy issues - everything from foreign investment to animal activism - the NFF continues to punch above its weight as one of the most respected advocacy organisations in Canberra.
Download the NFF's Annual Review here, or call the NFF office on 02 6269 5666 to secure your copy today!
The NFF AGvocate
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