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Business advisory forum fails to consider agriculture

12 April 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has expressed its disappointment at agriculture being excluded from the Australian Government’s inaugural Business Advisory Forum, held in Canberra today.

NFF President Jock Laurie said while the bulk grain handling and storage sector was invited to the table, the wider agricultural industry was a notable omission.

“Today’s forum focuses on lifting productivity, driving investment, ensuring competition and progressing regulatory reform – all key issues that the agricultural sector, and the NFF, is focused on,” Mr Laurie said.

“Productivity growth, for instance, is of critical importance for our farmers. Historically, the growth in the farm sector in Australia has consistently outperformed other sectors – but this has slowed in recent times, showing the urgent need for increased research and development to ensure our sector can meet the needs of the booming world population.

“And red tape continues to be an enormous issue for agriculture. The NFF is active in outlining areas of reform that can reduce some of the regulatory burden from our farmers – areas like freight transport of agricultural goods, environmental application processes for on-farm developments and reforms around chemical use approvals and food safety regulations – all of which are currently too cumbersome and complex.

“Farmers have much to contribute to a forum on business in Australia – and the decision not to include agriculture could be interpreted as the Government not recognising or valuing the contribution of farming to the Australian economy.

“Australia’s farm exports earn the country some $32.5 billion a year, while the wider agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors earn the country $36.2 billion in exports. From this perspective, we challenge the Government to find other industries that are more acutely affected by the highly Australian dollar than agriculture.

“If the Government is serious about a commitment to the food and fibre sector, then agriculture needs to be at the table. We have raised our concerns directly with the Government today, and we trust that it will not make this oversight in future meetings of the Business Advisory Forum – or indeed, any other forum designed to influence the future architecture of the Australian economy,” Mr Laurie said.

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