Wednesday, 10 September 2014
In the Senate last week, a motion co-sponsored by Bill Heffernan, Linda Reynolds and David Leyonhjelm, calling for a Senate inquiry into all marketing and research & development (R&D) levies in the agricultural sector was passed.
The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) believes that any changes to the current agricultural levy system must enhance the long term competitiveness of Australian agriculture and be in the best interests of farmers and their communities.
The NFF is a strong supporter of Australia's levy system. A system that delivers pooled funds for valuable industry R&D, marketing and biosecurity preparedness measures that would otherwise be unaffordable for the majority of farmers.
We do, however, understand that it is appropriate to review the system from time to time, especially where government co-contributions are involved.
The NFF will actively contribute to the Senate inquiry. We look forward to a genuine consultation process, and the opportunity to highlight the value of our world-class levy system to the Australian community.
For more information, visit the Senate inquiry homepage here.
The NFF is urging a swift ratification of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), saying it will open up markets for Australian farmers, particularly those in the red meat, grains, dairy, sugar, pork and hort sectors.
Agriculture is often a sticking point in trade negotiations. However, after four years of tense negotiations, we were pleased that the Korean and Australian Governments reached an agreement in December 2013 - a major step forward in securing Australia's trade within the Asian region.
The challenge now is moving from words to action. With the European Union and United States hot on our heels, ratification of the agreement will ensure Australian agriculture cements its competitive advantage in Asian markets.
What does this mean for farmers? Ratifying the agreement before the end of the year will ensure Australian farmers can start to take advantage of the tariff reduction timeline as of 1 January, 2015. For a breakdown of the tariffs, see our release here.
The NFF has welcomed the passage of the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014 through the House of Representatives: an important step towards greater flexibility for Australian farm businesses and their employees.
Under the Bill, individual flexibility arrangements (IFA) will become easier to manage, because they will align with IFA rules in modern awards and will have a longer notice period for termination.
Protected industrial action will only be able to be taken once enterprise agreement negotiations have begun (no more 'strike first, talk later'). Greater balance will be embedded in right of entry laws by reversing recent changes which require employers in remote areas to foot the bill for union travel to their site.
These are sensible measures that will reduce business costs without disadvantaging employees. Of course, they will only become a reality if the Bill also passes through the Senate. Having already been voted down once, it will be interesting to see how the new Senate approaches changes in the workplace relations space.
For more, see our recent policy submissions here.
The NFF is encouraging all those with an interest in, or involvement with, Australian agriculture, to head online and check out the various exciting career options available within the industry, both in metropolitan and regional areas.
Rural Skills Australia recently launched its Rural Career Guide, an online resource designed for students and job seekers, new entrants to the industry, parents, educators and employers.
It features education and training options, career descriptions and interactive displays to highlight career pathways in rural and related industries.
Visit the Rural Careers Guide website today!
Early bird registrations have been extended for the NFF 2014 National Congress ‘Producing Our Future’, to be held in Canberra on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 October, bringing together Australian agriculture: farmers, industry and government from grassroots to global.
The Congress will look at the major issues affecting Australian agriculture, on both a policy-development level, and a practical on-farm level. An exciting lineup of speakers will touch on topics ranging from increasing productivity, infrastructure, global trends impacting on supply and demand, Ag in a consumers world, technological game-changers and much more!
All within agriculture, particularly farmers, are strongly encouraged to attend. For more information, or to register, visit the official Congress website.
For more, see our media release here.
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The NFF AGvocate
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