Basin Plan fails: Fix required, Minister
The NFF yesterday joined with nine farmer and irrigator groups across the Basin to reject the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's revised Basin Plan.
Speaking on behalf of the groups at a press conference at Parliament House yesterday, NFF CEO Matt Linnegar said it "beggars belief" that after 20 weeks of consultation, with Basin communities imploring the Authority to deliver a more balanced plan, very little has changed.
Only the Federal Government and the Parliament can now fix the Basin Plan, said Mr Linnegar; and to fail to do so would be to risk the future of Australia’s food bowl and the Basin communities. The NFF, and the collective of industry bodies, call on Minister Burke and the Government to deliver what has been promised: a balanced Basin Plan.
For more, read the joint statement issued by the 10 agricultural groups, including the NFF, 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 - or view Matt Linnegar speaking at the press conference (courtesy of ABC News24) here.
Review supports calls for improved telecommunications
All rural and regional Australians must have equal access to reliable and affordable telecommunications, said the NFF in our submission to the Regional Telecommunications Review in December - and last week, the Review reported, acknowledging the need to greatly improve telecommunications services in regional Australia.
As a result, we've thrown our support behind the Review's recommendations, which found that the lack of commercial investment and disparate access to technology is excluding rural businesses and households from fully capitalising on the digital economy.
In particular, the NFF supports the recommendation for a co-investment program, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to work to expand mobile coverage to regional Australia. For more, read our release.
Trade win: Australia signs free trade agreement with Malaysia
In positive news on the international trade front, the long-awaited Australia-Malaysia free trade agreement was signed last week - filling a number of gaps within the existing ASEAN-Australian-NZ free trade agreement, and improving international market access for Australian agricultural produce.
The agreement took seven years of negotiations to complete and provides positive export opportunities for farmers. The Malaysian market is worth around $1 billion in Australian agricultural exports - including being our fourth largest sugar export market and our fifth largest wheat export market. And, with economic growth at around 5 per cent per annum, opportunities in Malaysia and the Asian region for our farmers will continue to grow.
Of course, more work remains to be done in international trade to ensure that Australian farmers can tap into the full potential across the Asian region. Our attention is now on ensuring that agriculture remains front and centre in completed free trade agreements with South Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia - all markets with enormous growth opportunities and where significant barriers to trade in agriculture still exist, not only through tariffs that restrict trade but also through technical or so called ‘behind the border’ restrictions.
For more on the Australia-Malaysia free trade agreement, read our release.
Showing off the farm: FarmDay 2012 a success
Over 500 families from across the country took part in the seventh annual FarmDay over the weekend. City families got their hands dirty on farms from Clermont in tropical QLD to the Pilbara in north west WA - and on many properties in between.
Founded by former national RIRDC Rural Women’s Award winner, and Victorian wool and lamb producer, Deb Bain and proudly supported by the NFF, FarmDay provides an opportunity for city families to experience life on the land, and for farmers to showcase the food and fibre they produce. For more information on FarmDay 2012, visit the website.
Coming up at NFF.
> Blueprint heads to the Apple Isle
The final date for the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture roadshow has been set: the NFF will host a Blueprint forum in Launceston, Tasmania, on Thursday 12 July from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. The forum will take place at the Launceston Country Club in conjunction with the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) Conference, taking place at the same venue from 10 to 13 July. All are welcome to attend the free Blueprint forum - including, but not limited to, those attending the TFGA Conference. For more information, call the NFF on 02 6269 5666 or visit the Blueprint webpage.
> Save the date: NFF Congress 2012
A reminder that the NFF will host its major biennial event, the NFF National Congress 2012, in Canberra on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 October. The NFF Congress is the premier event on the agricultural calendar, bringing together farmers, agribusinesses, government and senior departmental officials, supply chain representatives, agricultural educators, industry leaders and leading experts to canvass and debate the issues, challenges and opportunities for the Australian agricultural sector. Further information, including registration details and key Congress speakers, will be provided in future editions of the NFF AGvocate.
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