National Farmers Federation want both parties to commit to five-point plan for regions

Jamieson Murphy
By Jamieson Murphy
April 11 2022 - 6:00am
THINKING BIG: NFF president Fiona Simson said regional Australia deserved an ambition vision from the new government.

POLITICIANS of all stripes have been warned not to ignore regional Australia and the agriculture sector on the campaign trail.

Australians are set to go to the polls on 21 May and the National Farmers' Federation has challenged both major parties to commit to five key actions to "supercharge the momentum" of agriculture and the bush.

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The NFF wants the next government to capitalise on the market demand for environmental services with a $2 billion fund to reward land managers who improve the health of their landscape.

The organisation wants $4.1 billion to establish 20 Regional Development Precincts, which would plan for sustainable growth in selected rural areas, and to ease the farm labour shortage by fast tracking Ag Visa discussions with 10 partner nations, along with attracting and training more Australian workers.

To end the connectivity issues that have plagued regional Australians for decades, the NFF called for a $5 billion Rural Telecommunications Fund to improve mobile coverage and internet connection, while reforming competition laws to protect farmers from unfair practices.

NFF president Fiona Simson admits the plan was ambitious, but the regions deserved an aspirational vision.

"Our regions account for about 40 per cent of the nation's total economic output and 90 per cent of the daily food we consume is produced by our farmers," Ms Simson said.

"This election, parties seeking to hold office must do more than provide lip service to those outside city bounds, they must commit to delivering on the priorities identified by the NFF and our members."

Regen Farmers Mutual, which represents hundreds of farmers across the country, said the ag sector needed certainty and clarity about the net-zero position of all major parties.

RFM director Andrew Ward said in much of the current climate policy "farmers were an afterthought", despite managing more than half the nation's land.

He pointed to the Climate Active program, which is a government certification for Australian businesses who drive voluntary climate action, which was set up with an "urban context".

"The whole idea of carbon neutral at the moment is urban focused - the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane was carbon neutral, you've got muesli bars stamped with carbon neutral," Mr Ward said.

"But there are few farms with the carbon neutral stamp, despite them having the most opportunity to drive change through their carbon sinks and emissions. It's currently too hard for farmers to go through the process and it's too expensive."

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Jamieson Murphy

Jamieson Murphy

National Rural Affairs reporter

National Rural Affairs reporter, focusing on rural politics and issues. Whisper g'day mate to me at jamieson.murphy@austcommunitymedia.com.au

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