Australian farmer advocacy groups urged to speak as one

October 7, 2015

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NSW Farmers Association chairman Derek Schoen is interviewed by Jim Booth at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

Australian farmer advocacy groups have been urged to speak with one voice by NSW Farmers Association chairman Derek Schoen.

Mr Schoen, addressing visitors at the 2015 Henty Machinery Field Days, said it was important for the nation’s 87 advocacy groups to strengthen their voice in the domestic and international political sphere.

He pointed to the Newgate Report, a review into the future of farm sector representation commissioned by the National Farmers Federation, as a step towards achieving unification.

“NSW Farmers, as an advocacy group, is lobbying on your behalf on policy issues that affect landholders on the state and federal sphere, and engaging with the NFF to ensure your voice is heard in Canberra,’’ Mr Schoen.

“With the recent change in leadership in the Federal Government, it gives agriculture a new focus and it’s good to see that Barnaby Joyce has retained the position of Minister for Agriculture with water included in his portfolio.’’

Mr Schoen said the decline in the mining sector had resulted in an increase in skilled labour available to agricultural industries.

He said niche markets in Asia presented export opportunities for quality, sustainably produced agricultural products.

“On the state arena, infrastructure investment after the sale of electricity poles and wires mean there is a substantial amount of money that we will make sure gets reinvested into the country areas,’’ Mr Schoen said.

“NSW Farmers prior to the last election was able to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the State Government to ensure key issues we would want addressed would be high on their agenda.

“Native vegetation changes are due for consultation in November and we will be keeping the government up to their promise of new legislation in the New Year.’’

Mr Schoen said the value of livestock production was forecast to increase by around 11 per cent to $29.1 billion on the back of expected increase of farm gate prices for beef cattle, lamb, sheep and wool.

Crop production is expected to rise by five per cent in 2015-16 to $28.1 billion.

“When you see the technology and innovation embraced in agriculture at the Henty Machinery Field Days, agriculture has moved so far in such a short period of time and it is now a vibrant occupation for the younger generation,’’ Mr Schoen said.

“It is an exciting time in agriculture, it’s great to walk around the exhibits at Henty and see the new technology available.

“It is incredible to think that 35 years ago when I came back on the farm, there was a low uptake of technology and no one had dreamt of auto steer – today it’s great to see agriculture embracing technology.’’