Tuesday 6 December, 2011
No balance in the Basin Plan
Last week the Murray-Darling Basin Authority released the highly anticipated proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which failed to achieve the promised balance between social, economic and environmental impacts.
The NFF and nine other peak industry bodies, including National Irrigators Council, AgForce Queensland, Queensland Farmers’ Federation, NSW Irrigators Council, NSW Farmers Association, Victorian Farmers’ Federation, Australian Dairy Farmers, Cotton Australia and the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia joined forces to call for Minister Burke to intervene to deliver a balanced plan.
At a joint press conference at Parliament House on Monday, NFF CEO Matt Linnegar, NSW Farmers' CEO Matt Brand, National Irrigators Council Chair Stewart Ellis and NSW Irrigators Council CEO Andrew Gregson spoke about the impact of the proposed Plan, including job losses, closure of family farms, hardships for regional communities and increases in fresh food prices.
The NFF will continue to lobby for greater balance in the Plan, and will attend the series of public meetings scheduled for across the Basin during the 20 week consultation period.
Blueprint roadshow rocks Rocky
The NFF hosted its first Blueprint for Australian Agriculture forum last week in the Central Queensland town of Rockhampton, in conjunction with Westpac, AgForce and the Cattle Council of Australia. 70 farmers, transporters, processors, retailers, educators and local Government representatives joined forces to raise issues and opportunities for agriculture, and to map out their vision for the future of the farming sector.
The key issues raised included land use change, water, infrastructure, regulation, labour shortages and the lack of understanding about agriculture. The discussion focused on the need for farmers to tell the positive stories about agriculture in order to create a future where food and fibre producers are valued and consumers are engaged.
The Rockhampton forum was the first in a series of forums taking place around Australia. The next Blueprint forum will take place in Toowoomba, QLD, on Wednesday 7 March. We hope to see you there!
Thousands of positive stories
Somewhat ironically, on the exact day the Blueprint discussions were taking place in Rockhampton, the Sydney Morning Herald published an opinion piece by economist Ross Gittins, who claimed that "we never hear from farmers when times are good" as that would undermine "the media's stereotype that 'the man on the land' is ALWAYS doing it tough".
NFF President Jock Laurie wrote a letter to the Herald in reply, informing Ross that there are thousands of positive stories about farming and agriculture to tell, and we need the media's help to tell them. In the letter, Jock invited Ross to his farm at Walcha to meet with local farmers and hear the good news stories - but we are yet to hear if Ross would like to take up the invitation.
Response to labelling review labelled 'sensible'
The Government last week issued its response to the food labelling review - and the outcome is a sensible step that balances the need for consumer information with the practicalities (and potential costs) of implementing a new system.
While we're certainly supportive of efforts to improve the labelling of food to give shoppers the opportunity to make more informed decisions, and the opportunity for farmers to showcase the high quality food they produce, the issue is in how we go about achieving this.
The NFF believes we need to make sure that any labelling changes don't lead to extra costs - costs that will be passed back to farmers in the form of lower prices for produce. For more, read our release.
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