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NFF calls for public debate about agriculture’s role

18 August 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today drawn attention to the role of agriculture in domestic and global food security, as the coal seam gas issue intensifies.

As the Federal, State and Local governments prepare to meet in Canberra tomorrow for COAG, NFF President Jock Laurie is urging them to set aside a time during the next meeting to address this issue with relevant stakeholders.

“There is a need for greater understanding in the broader community about the importance of agriculture in meeting the global food challenge, and to determine the role it wants agriculture in Australia to play in the years ahead,” Mr Laurie said.

“Right now we’re seeing decisions being made on major issues and policies that have the potential to seriously impact the agricultural sector.

“The debate over coal seam gas has brought attention to the fact that while there are multiple demands on our landscape, in pursuing one objective, we can put other areas at risk. Key amongst these is food and agriculture.

“It’s estimated that each Australian farmer currently feeds 600 people, 150 here at home and 450 overseas. But the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN has said that agricultural production needs to increase by 70 percent by 2050 in order to feed the world’s population.

“The question we’re asking is how - how will our farmers achieve this when policies and decisions made now do not take into consideration the long-term sustainability and productivity of our industry?” Mr Laurie said.

“The NFF is calling for a national debate on the issue of food security and how our farmers are going to produce more food with less land, less water, less resources and less technology, while battling more droughts and floods.

“This will feed into the development of the NFF Blueprint for Australian Agriculture, which will outline the challenge, but also the opportunity, for Australian farmers to help provide a solution to one of the world’s most pressing issues: both at home and abroad.

“Now is the time to have a national public debate on the role agriculture needs to play in society, so that policies and decisions can be made without unduly affecting agricultural production now and in the future.

“It’s about ensuring a long-term future for an industry that, at the end of the day, feeds and clothes this nation and the world,” Mr Laurie concluded.

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