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Northern Australian irrigation to benefit from investment

15 December 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the joint announcement by the Federal and Queensland Governments that $10 million will be invested in establishing new irrigation industries in northern Queensland.

NFF President Jock Laurie said that any investment aimed at boosting Australia’s agricultural production is a welcome move.

“We often talk about the fact that Australian farmers are going to have to increase the amount of food and fibre they produce in order to meet the growing domestic and world demand – by a whopping 70 percent in fact – and that they have to do so with less land and less water,” Mr Laurie said.

“Today’s announcement is about exploring opportunities to open parts of Australia up to new agricultural developments – to look at new crops that suit the soil and climate of northern Queensland, to boost beef production and to establish and grow the irrigation industry.

“This is a positive initiative for agriculture in northern Australia, and one that will have flow on benefits for the local communities and economies that agriculture supports.

“The NFF has long called for increased investment in agriculture in Australia, particularly through research, development and extension to help us increase production to meet the needs of a growing population. This is a perfect example of the type of investment we would like to see more of in order to further diversify our sector and support regional communities.

“Interestingly, this announcement for northern Australian comes on the same day that thousands of farmers, businesses and community members met in Griffith in southern Australia to voice their concern about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan: a plan designed to remove water from irrigation communities.

“We are, of course, concerned about what seems to be policy decisions made in isolation: where Government policy on irrigation in the top end is inconsistent with policy in the south. We encourage the Government to engage with communities in the Murray-Darling Basin to deliver real, positive outcomes like they are doing in the north.

“This demonstrates the need for a long-term, strategic approach by Government to agricultural policy, where the value of the farm sector is recognised and appreciated, and Government investment helps to grow innovation and efficiency.

“We hope today’s announcement, combined with the Government’s National Food Plan and our Blueprint for Australian Agriculture, is the start of long-term thinking from Government to ensure a strong and sustainable future for agriculture,” Mr Laurie said.

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