NFF president Jock Laurie.THE National Farmers Federation (NFF) launched its biannual national congress in Canberra today by calling on the federal government to support a long term strategic vision for agriculture and not “strangle” the sector, with short term political demands.
Speaking to a gathering of about 300 delegates including Federal politicians, media and farmers, NFF president Jock Laurie said there were great opportunities ahead for Australian agriculture.
But capitalising on those opportunities, including the rising demand for Australian agricultural exports in the Asian region, would require governments with long-term vision and policies to support agriculture.
Mr Laurie said an Australian Farm Institute analysis of the OECD’s review of national agricultural policies, which showed Australian agriculture received the lowest amount of government support for any developed nation on earth, and an ANZ released a report that predicted Australia’s farming sector would be able to grow exports to more than $1.7 trillion over the next four decades, showed despite the lack of support, Australian agriculture had enormous potential.
“Our farmers have a clear competitive advantage, thanks to our proximity to Asia and our clean and natural production systems.
“But, to make this a reality, we need to overcome the challenge of growing more food and fibre with fewer natural resources – and we need policy that enables us to do so.
“Policy to strengthen our biosecurity and quarantine systems; policy that encourages continued investment in agricultural research and development to boost our productivity growth; policy to ensure that our regulatory systems do not hamper the development of new innovations and technologies; and policy that helps improve international trade opportunities for our farmers.
The congress will be held over the next two days with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott included on tomorrow’s list of speakers.
The congress theme – The food and fibre boom; from grass roots to global – addresses future food security concerns and explores the opportunities available for Australian agriculture to feed and clothe the world.
The NFF will also release the first draft of its Blueprint for Australian Agriculture and engage in further discussions to develop the draft, around key themes already emerging from the peak lobby group’s engagement and consultation processes.
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