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No need for new agricultural body: just greater commitment

22 June 2012

In a week when the nation’s peak agricultural body has achieved a policy win on foreign investment, represented Australian agriculture at the Rio+20 Forum and called on the Prime Minister to deliver policies to ensure a strong and sustainable agricultural sector, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is questioning why a Senate Inquiry would recommend establishing a new body for agriculture.

“Yesterday’s Senate Inquiry into agricultural education made a recommendation re setting up a new agricultural body to represent farmers and agribusinesses in establishing policy,” NFF President Jock Laurie said.

“The NFF’s very mandate is to represent farmers and the broader farm sector: we already have a powerful reputation, a strong and established relationship with Government and have achieved major outcomes for our sector. The suggestion that yet another body be formed is completely counterproductive to Australian agriculture.

“Our role is in fighting for the future of the agricultural sector; in encouraging greater collaboration across industry on the issues facing our sector; in telling the positive story of agriculture; and, most importantly, in achieving the outcomes that make a difference. This is work we are already doing: and doing well.

“We are also playing a very important role in strategically planning for the future of our sector through the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture: bringing all parts of agriculture and the supply chain together to identify the way forward.

“Instead of encouraging splintering of the agricultural industry, what we were hoping to see from the Senate Inquiry’s report was real leadership on agricultural education: an area where the NFF is already playing a leadership role.

“Instead, we see a Senate Inquiry that has overstepped its terms of reference and is encouraging the agricultural sector to waste resources in setting up another body – a body that, in Senator Back’s own words, needs to look at the issues of foreign investment, food security and education; issues where the NFF already has runs on the board.

“As the Senator already knows, the NFF is doing extensive work in all three areas, among many more, and achieving real outcomes for our sector.

“What we need to see is, as the Senator suggested and we in industry well know, is greater resourcing of agricultural representation across the sector and greater collaboration between organisations – not by reinventing the wheel and creating a new body with no credibility, but by getting behind the known, trusted and respected name: NFF,” Mr Laurie said.

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