NFF vision: value our farms

AN AUSTRALIA that truly values and respects agriculture and the essential role it plays in society forms a driving vision for the industry unveiled by the National Farmers' Federation.

After more than 12 months of work, NFF president Jock Laurie revealed the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture to the National Press Club on Thursday last week.

The "blueprint" forms an overarching vision for the industry out to 2050.


Mr Laurie said it was developed with input from nearly 4000 Australians, who identified the challenges, opportunities and potential solutions to the problems faced by primary production.

"It is an ambitious plan that identifies seven critical areas in which action must happen now to ensure we are well placed in the future: Innovation; research, development and extension; competitiveness; trade and market access; people; agriculture in society; and natural resources and transformational issues," he said.

"The blueprint participants have called for such action as an increase in investment in agricultural research, development and extension to help improve productivity growth and address issues like the changing climate."

And while the blueprint outlines the long-term possibilities for Australian agriculture, the more immediate future is also under heavy scrutiny, with the federal election date now set.

Those immediate priorities were set out in the NFF's Budget submission, revealing the growing urgency of extension for Australia's producers.

Mr Laurie said while there was a definite need to improve investment in research and development, there was no point in that investment if it was not extended to producers.

"We've seen over many years state governments cut and keep cutting extension to producers and it's time that was brought back - we don't care whether it's delivered by states or the Commonwealth," he said.

"That essential role that departmental extension officers played as independent advisers for farmers has disappeared and it needs to return."

Other priorities, advised by the long-term vision, included a $5 million grant for the Primary Industries Education Foundation - to help more young people sign up for a future in the industry.

It also said the much-touted National Food Plan had to be more than a document - it must be used to make available sufficient resources to deliver the promises made.

Mr Laurie said there was a danger the plan could become a list of challenges and priorities that never saw the light of day due to a lack of resources.

Mr Laurie said participants in the blueprint also wanted to see a reduction in red tape, more infrastructure investment and inclusion of agriculture in the national curriculum, as a matter of priority.


Topics:  national farmers' federation

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