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Putting Australian agriculture on the Asian Century map

28 October 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today welcomed the release of the Federal Government’s Asian Century White Paper, which recognises the opportunity for Australian agriculture as an important supplier of high-value food to Asia in the years to come.

NFF President Jock Laurie said the recognition by the Government of the opportunity for agriculture in the Asian Century is a marked improvement on the earlier debate re the role Australia could play in the region.

“At the time of writing our submission to the White Paper back in March, the agricultural sector had barely been mentioned for the prospects it holds in the Asian Century,” Mr Laurie said.

“Today, the important role for farmers in providing food, fibre, knowledge and expertise to the Asian region, and the challenges we must overcome to succeed in doing so, have been recognised.

“This follows the Prime Minister’s address to our 2012 National Congress last week in which Ms Gillard spoke of Australia’s Asia advantage and the opportunity for agriculture’s share of the Australian economy to rise – and recognised the NFF’s submission to the Asian Century White Paper as thoughtful and substantive.

“In the White Paper, the Government has acknowledged that rising food demand, connected to rising populations and an expanding middle class in Asia, offers an opportunity for Australia to be an important supplier on high-value food. And it has recognised that to capitalise on this, greater investment is needed to boost output and research, adapt to regulatory change and build capacity.

“The Government has adopted many of the priorities for agriculture that we identified in our submission, including the need to enhance trade, build relationships by increasing participation in Asian markets, and implement world-class biosecurity reforms.

“The Government has also referenced areas we think are of key importance, like research and development and the enhancement of valuable natural resources.

“In our submission, we called for a re-investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) and a promotion of innovation: today, the Government has stated the need to maintain the rural R&D model to boost productivity and innovation. Similarly, we identified the need to recognise, and strategically address, the competition for land, water and labour: today, the Government has stated the need to ensure efficient use of natural resources. Small steps, but positive ones nonetheless.

“The NFF will continue to work with Government to ensure Australian farmers, and the wider agricultural sector, is best placed to seize the opportunity ahead,” Mr Laurie said.

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