NT agriculture industry threats in spotlight

The lack of internet coverage in the Territory will be discussed at the upcoming Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association conference.
The lack of internet coverage in the Territory will be discussed at the upcoming Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association conference. Tobi Loftus

THE north-west monsoon is the lifeblood of the NT cattle industry.

The rains set the scene for producers as the year unfolds.

As important as they are, they remain beyond the control of even the most hardened optimist.

While this good wet season comes to a climax, setting our industry up for another productive year, the NTCA board and staff met in Darwin last week to work across the range of issues confronting members; the issues that can be controlled.

Despite the good season and strong market of 2016, threats to our industry, enterprises and people seem to appear regularly.

Strategically, proactively and reactively, the NTCA is there to protect and advance the interests of members from the threats of legislation, red tape and external opponents, while working to secure and enhance market and production opportunities.

Some of the major issues being proactively addressed at present include mining and petroleum co-existence, land tenure, land valuations and pastoral rent, biosecurity, Animal Welfare Act review, weed, pest and feral animal control, stock theft and trespassing on pastoral lands.

We have been forced to react vigorously to federal decisions taken without consultation, including the cessation of ABC short-wave services and BOM radar services in the Barkly region.

Similar decisions to mandate the replacement of all 40 channel UHF CB radios and make linking of UHF repeaters illegal retrospectively have been reversed due to the concerted effort of NTCA and others.

The roll-out of NBN broadband continues to be problematical.

Remote users were amazed to hear that while internet access through the Skymuster was restricted and expensive (35GB per month usable costing the same as unlimited downloads in town) due to a fair use policy so that everyone could get something, the NBN has done a deal with Qantas so that customers can obtain wi-fi internet in flight.

Qantas has not yet responded to my question as to whether their plan will be "shaped” to 128kbps (snail pace) if the B737 goes over 35GB for the month.

Strategically the board progressed the development of a Northern Beef Industry Plan to better guide future development, trade and resource management across the north. Other strategic projects encourage trade and market development (including China), improving livestock transport and heavy vehicle safety regulations, and the Northern Beef Roads initiative.

The very successful Indonesian Student Exchange Program and Indigenous Student Program are part of our long-term strategic commitment to our community and our customers.

Leadership on these issues is just as critical to the NT pastoral industry as the monsoon rains.

The NTCA has been a member of the industry's peak body Cattle Council of Australia, as well as the National Farmers' Federation, since forming in 1984, and has always contributed to the national policy discussion with the best interests of the NT, Australia and the cattle industry in focus.

For our industry to meet the challenges it faces and capitalise on the opportunities, it maintains a strategic and co-ordinated policy position that empowers individuals and enterprises to thrive and prosper within a sustainable framework.

These major issues will be discussed and debated following presentations from impressive guest speakers at the upcoming NTCA conference to be held in Darwin on March 31.

Topics:  cattle farming northern territory northern territory cattlemen's association ntca ntca annual conference rural tom stockwell

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