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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2009
CA TTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA YEARBOOK 2009 National Farmers' Federation president’s report With david Crombie THE impact of the ongoing drought and the resultant stress and hardship imposed on producers, families and rural communities throughout much of southern Australia remains the issue of most immediate concern to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF). N orthern Australia has had a generally good summer and, in this land of extremes, coastal Queensland and the gulf has experienced extensive flooding. The NFF is continuing to work with the Federal Government to ensure ongoing support for families during these prevailing devastating natural disasters. Looking forward it is clear that the current drought policy needs to change to be more flexible. Programs need to be accessible to producers whether they are in an Exceptional Circumstances (EC) declared event or not, and they need to be designed to assist producers and communities to better manage and prepare for future events. Away from the seasons and, in a global context, world population is growing and demand for food and fibre is strong and expanding. The world needs food and fibre and we are good at producing it. The fundamentals for Australian agriculture are positive and, despite the drought, we are confident of the future of our agricultural industries. It will rain again and we are ready for when it does. Another issue that has confronted us has been the growing global financial crisis. The NFF has maintained close contact with the Government and it is our belief that agriculture has, and will fare, better than most other sectors with continuing strong demand for soft commodities helped by competitive exchange rates. There are, however, concerns relating to business credit, increasing levels of farm debt, interest rates, and international market failures. On the broad front, the business of the NFF is to address those issues that concern the farm sector beyond the farm-gate. We research national issues that affect all of agriculture, we develop policies accordingly and we advocate those policy positions on behalf of all of agriculture to the Government and to the broader community. It’s no surprise that over recent years the NFF’s revenue has shrunk, along with most in our sector, during this time of prolonged drought. The NFF has been compelled to prioritise and focus on those issues that impact most directly on the business environment of our producer members. We have four main objectives at NFF: • To assist producers lower their cost base and remain competitive in the face of declining terms of trade. • To break down the barriers to trade and secure and open new markets for our products. • To have good policy in regard to sustainability, which works with not against producers in the areas of land management, emissions trading and water policy; and • To try and build awareness, understanding and trust in the broader Australian community about agriculture and what we do. Over the past year, we have had some significant success working with our members and with Government. There have been positive outcomes in the area of labour shortages, with the NFF’s Workforce from Abroad Employment Scheme being adopted by the Federal Government under its Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme. With the Government’s headlong plunge into a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, we’ve been able to keep 57 1117_CCA Yearbook 2009.indd 57 5/5/09 8:01:11 PM