Fighting for our farmers' future

Thursday 10 November, 2011

Members' Council meeting

Last week, the 24 strong NFF Members’ Council met in Canberra for the annual AGM and policy debate. Key issues on the agenda for discussion included the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, mining and coal seam gas regulation and the proposed Retail Pricing Bill.

Elections for the NFF Board were also held at the meeting, with Walcha producer Jock Laurie re-elected as President of the NFF, and Hay farmer Duncan Fraser re-elected as Vice-President. For more, read our media release regarding our Board appointees.

The Gillard Government issued a release congratulating Jock on his re-appointment, and the Prime Minister also spoke to Members' Council via a video message.

Pictured, the NFF Board with CEO Matt Linnegar.

Coal seam gas: our position

The NFF Mining and Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Taskforce's tour of the Hunter Valley late last month coincided with the announcement by Senator Ludwig that a harmonised framework should be developed across all States and Territories on future CSG developments. The NFF welcomed the call, having met with the Prime Minister only the week prior to discuss the need for a consistent approach on CSG across all jurisdictions. For more, read our media release.

Last week, the NFF Members’ Council voted on the proposed Bill by Independent Tony Windsor which seeks to introduce a ‘water trigger’ into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act 1999) for onshore petroleum and mining companies.

Many farmers believe that this Bill may benefit farmers, but our concern is that it poses a potential threat to the agricultural industry in the longer-term. All our members are committed to achieving better outcomes for farmers, and after rigorous debate, the majority of NFF members voted against supporting the Bill for two reasons: to avoid the risk of the regulations under the EPBC Act being extended to farmers in the future, and to avoid additional regulation and red tape being imposed on farmers from a Federal perspective (on the proviso that State Governments need to tighten regulations). As a result of voting against the Windsor Bill, the Members' Council also voted down a similar Bill proposed by Greens Senator Larissa Waters. For more, read our letter to the editor on the Members' Council position.

Carbon tax passes the Senate

This week saw the carbon tax legislation debated and passed by the Senate. We are, of course, disappointed with this result due to the extra costs that will be passed back into farm businesses.

While we have always remained opposed to the tax, we have worked hard to ensure that farmers achieved the best deal possible out of any scheme to price carbon. We aimed to remove costs associated with a price on carbon and to create opportunities for the farm sector to participate in any future market.

And the carbon tax that was passed by the Senate has moved considerably from what was first proposed in terms of benefits for agriculture. The Government has responded to our calls by removing agriculture’s direct emissions, and agricultural and heavy vehicle fuel for two year period, while also developing carbon mitigation options.

But this is only the beginning – there is much work for the NFF to continue to do to ensure farmers get the best deal possible under this legislation. For more, read our media release.

Coming up at NFF

> D. Day for MDBP approaches
Last week, the Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), Craig Knowles, announced that the MDBA will release the much-anticipated draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan on Monday 28 November. While the final details are yet to be released, we have already signalled the serious concerns of industry and the community that, from the evidence we have seen to date, the required balance between social, economic and environmental needs has not been achieved. The NFF continues to advocate on behalf of our members and farmers as the release date approaches.

> Blueprint roadshow rolls into Rockhampton
The NFF, along with Westpac and our member organisations, will host the first Blueprint for Australian Agriculture forum in Rockhampton, QLD, on 29 November. All within the agricultural supply chain are invited to attend this free forum to have their say on the issues affecting the sector. The forum will take place in the James Lawrence Pavilion 1 at Rockhampton Showground from 1pm-5pm on Tuesday 29 November. For more information, view the Rockhampton Blueprint flyer available from our website or to register your interest in attending, contact the NFF on 02 6269 5666.

The NFF AGvocate
Issue 3.

In this issue

Members' Council meeting

Coal seam gas: our position

Carbon tax passes the Senate

Coming up at NFF

D. Day for MDBP approaches

Blueprint roadshow rolls into Rockhampton

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