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NFF urges Government to remember every cent counts in 2017-2018 budget

18 January 2017

The National Farmers’ Federation is calling on the Government to show economic leadership and allow Australian agriculture to thrive with the message every cent counts.

The peak farming organisation, has outlined 35 recommendations in its pre-budget submission that it sees as crucial to the ongoing success of agriculture and its contribution to the national economy.

At the centre of the submission is a call for budget repair, the boosting of business confidence and a regulatory environment that supports farmers’ success.

Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the NFF and its members had a bold vision for Australian agriculture.

“By 2030 our goal is for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry. This year production was valued at $60 billion – the highest ever but we believe there is potential for even more growth.”

Mr Mahar said the Government played a significant role in the sector achieving this vision.

“Farmers need a regulatory environment that fosters, growth, productivity; innovation and ambition – not one that impedes it.

He said budget repair was a priority but that it must be pursued in a way that fosters Australia’s international competitiveness – given the export-dependency of the sector.

“There must also be measures to boost confidence and encourage growth, incentives to work, save and invest,” Mr Mahar said.

The six pillars of NFF’s pre-budget submission make recommendations across the spectrum including calls for a reduced company tax rate, enhanced labour market flexibility, competition policy change, infrastructure investment including in telecommunications and electricity market reform.

“The key message is clear - every cent counts.”

“Whether it’s money collected through tax, returns to farmers through trade deals, dollars invested in infrastructure – every cent counts. Strategic and forward-thinking economic management is crucial to deliver a more profitable farm sector,” Mr Mahar said.

NFF’s pre-budget submission at a glance

• The Government must create a stable macroeconomic environment that is conducive to growth. This means expenditure restraint and tax reform – a lower tax burden overall and a more simple tax system.

• The labour market must be flexible to enable farm businesses to be dynamic, efficient and agile. Farmers must be able to allocate human capital according to their needs, in the face of rapid technological change. Farmers also need to be able to source labour with the right skills at the right time.

• The Government must continue to liberalise trade to provide access to new markets and partner with industry to improve access in existing markets.

• Competition policy reform is vital to ensure farmers operate on a level playing field and share in the prosperity that they create. Asymmetries in the market mean that when supply chain relationships are imbalanced, the financial impact on farmers can be severe.

• Australian agriculture is being held back by a lack of regional telecommunications and transport infrastructure. Australian farmers will struggle to adopt new technologies and innovate without access to high quality, affordable telecommunications infrastructure.

• The electricity market is broken and farmers, like the rest of the community, are not getting the affordable, reliable electricity supply they need to produce enough food and fibre to satisfy growing demand.

Unintended consequences flowing from the interaction between federal, State and Territory energy, climate and land use policies are threatening the viability of Australian agricultural exports.

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