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Good rhetoric, now time for action on agriculture

19 June 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the comments from the Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard, from Mexico overnight regarding the need to improve agriculture and food production.

Speaking at the launch of a joint foreign aid program for agriculture in Los Cabos, the Prime Minister said that agriculture needs “better agricultural productivity, more open trade, greater investment, innovation, research and development.”

NFF President Jock Laurie said the comments are as applicable to Australian agriculture as they are to global agriculture.

“The Prime Minister’s comments will come as no surprise to those within the Australian agricultural sector - we’ve been saying the same things for many years - but it is reassuring to know that the Government is listening,” NFF President Jock Laurie said.

“Importantly, just as the Government has pledged to improve agricultural productivity and food security in some of the world’s poorest countries, we need to see the same commitment to productivity and food and fibre production at home.

“The issues facing the global agricultural sector: the challenge of increasing production, the scarcity of valuable resources, the barriers to trade; are all the same challenges facing Australian farmers.

“Australian farmers are already extremely efficient – we have to be, in order to compete in the global marketplace - and the Prime Minister has acknowledged this. We are only able to stay competitive by continually increasing our production through innovation and research and development. If we want to stay in the game, then we cannot take our foot off the pedal.

“And, if the Government is serious about Australian agriculture playing a leading role in helping to ensure other countries have sufficient food, then they need to support this through policies that enable growth in our domestic agricultural sector.

“Policies like strengthening our biosecurity and quarantine systems; continuing to invest in agricultural research and development to boost our productivity; ensuring our regulatory systems do not hamper the development of new innovations and technologies; and ensuring new Government policies do not add additional costs into our farm businesses.

“What we need is a long-term, strategic approach from Government to agricultural policy development, informed by the sector’s Blueprint for Australian Agriculture, to ensure that we can meet the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities ahead,” Mr Laurie said.

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