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One voice a recurring theme for farmers

21 October 2014

A unified voice for agriculture has emerged as the central theme of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) 2014 National Congress held in Canberra over the past two days.

Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten MP, addressed the Congress on Labor’s vision for Australian agriculture. He talked about bi-partisanship and how industry organisations can inspire the vision that underpins government policy.

McDonald’s CEO Andrew Gregory talked about agriculture in a consumer’s world. As the voice of consumers grows louder, retailers respond by sourcing products that meet their needs. This brings both opportunities and challenges for Australian farmers, striving to meet new and emerging markets.

Six federal politicians from across the political spectrum provided great entertainment with a diversity of views and furious engagement from the floor, highlighting just how important a unified message is in influencing government policy.

A discussion on Brand Australia re-ignited the debate about how Australia can project its food and fibre produce onto the world stage. Key findings from an Austrade study showed that Australian products are well regarded but not well differentiated. Importantly, one voice defining Brand Australia was seen as essential to successful marketing of Australian agricultural produce overseas.

The release of the report into farm sector representation raised the prospect of a unified model to strengthen and streamline the voice of Australian farmers across the country.

Wrapping up a highly successful Congress, our vision for the future is clear. We are a sector full of passionate and innovative people. We love what we do and we do it well. We want to do it even better, so that agriculture is a leading light in the Australian economy. These are messages we don’t tell often enough. And they are messages that need to be heard loud and clear.

Australian farmers need a policy environment that allows their business to grow and flourish. We want to be competitive on the world stage. Government policies can propel us forward or they can hold us back.

The Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper is an important start toward a new era of government policies that propel us forward on to the world stage. Our message to government? Let us shine. Don’t hold us back.

- Brent Finlay, National Farmers' Federation (NFF) President

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