Home' National Farmers Federation : Annual Review 2008-2009 Contents 42 NATIONAL FARMERS' FEDERATION ANNUAL R EVIEW 2008-09
The major focus of activity in the Rural Affairs
area has been on negotiating a new National
Drought Policy with the Federal Government
and responding to the Draft Productivity
Commission report. The main areas of
submission and representation have been on:
• transition from existing to a new system.
• a new management and
• income support (welfare).
• business support.
• toolbox of indicators.
A great deal is being reviewed, workshopped,
and consulted in the area of Infrastructure and
• Ministerial Taskforce on an Economic
Framework for an Efficient
• a national framework for regulation,
registration and licensing of heavy vehicles.
• incremental pricing and its feasibility.
• national transportation data strategy.
• NSW grain freight.
• future direction of the National
• the inclusion of NFF within an Ministerial
group on shipping to advise on the
development of reform options.
On Education and Training:
• the Primary Industries Education Foundation
was officially launched in April 2009.
• the Australian Regional Agriculture
and Minerals Strategy (MoU) is nearing
completion of its initial pilots and has
focussed on delivering:
(a) a set of common and transferable
competencies between the farm and
mining sectors for training delivery
(b) a regional sustainability plan
encompassing the importance of an
educated and skilled workforce.
• FarmReady – the new FarmBis – training
subsidy program for farmers was launched.
• $80,000 grants also available to
• The Institute for Trade Skills Excellence has
received indications of support from the
Department of Education.
• The Bradley Review on Higher Education
was handed down and in conjunction
with the Cutler Innovation Review, will be
considered by the Government in the next
On innovation and research and development,
the NFF highlighted the fall in capacity in
the R&D effort in its Budget Submission and
has been strongly advocating for additional
funding in this area to arrest recent declines in
On GM/biotechnology, we have seen:
• positive indications from Western Australia
to move forward with a trial
• positive results from the frst GM-
• Greenpeace working with the Network of
Concerned Farmers against GM
• Pressure on food wholesalers and retailers
to be GM-free under the banner of the "True
On Risk Management we have new research
showing the effect of the Indian Ocean dipole
on Australian eastern seaboard weather
patterns, providing the possibility of inter-
A new drought policy has dominated the
activities in Rural Affairs over 2008-09.
The Primary Industries Ministerial Forum in
February 2008 (PIMF 2008) and the subsequent
meeting of the Primary Industries Ministerial
Council in April 2008 (PIMC 2008) identified
the need to reform drought policy. Australian
primary industries ministers agreed that
current approaches to drought and Exception
Circumstances (EC) are no longer the most
appropriate and that drought policy must
be improved to create an environment of
self-reliance and preparedness and encourage
the adoption of appropriate climate change
Three inquiries were subsequently
commissioned. These were:
• The assessment by the BoM–CSIRO of what
a changing climate means for drought in
Australia (Hennessey et al. 2008)
• An expert panel’s assessment of the impacts
associated with drought (Kenny et al. 2008).
• The Productivity Commission’s inquiry
into government arrangements
for drought support
The NFF contributed to each of these reviews
The Draft Report from the Productivity
Commission was a matter of alarm as it took
a very economic rationalist approach to
As a result, the NFF produced a significant
submission to the draft report and
began a consultative process with the
Government and relevant departments
towards a new drought policy.
The NFF recognised that the support of
successive governments and the non-partisan
nature of drought support have helped farmers
through periods of unforseen hardship and
natural disaster. This has allowed them to
remain producers and contribute to society in
a number of ways.
Indeed, looking forward to farming's future,
the importance of continual innovation and
disaster support is crucial to not just the
viability of farmers, but in the ability for farming
to continue to feed and clothe the world as it
adapts to climate variability.
However, we strongly made the point that
Australian farmers contribute to the public
good of Australia on a daily basis. They feed,
clothe and manage the land and its natural
resources for the good of all.
The rationale for continued government
support for the farm sector through drought
support and broader measures in borne out by
its contribution to:
• Community public good
• Terms of trade and Australia’s balance of
• Regional sustainability
• Food and clothing.
These are the key reasons and justifications for
Australian Government support for the efforts
of farmers to survive drought and assist it
manage future climate variability.
Rural Affairs WITH ANDREW WILSMORE
THE flood and bushfire disasters in Queensland and Victoria saw the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) inundated with calls
and offers of assistance. Congratulations to the good work of the Victoria Farmers' Federation and AgForce Queensland in their
coordination efforts, and to all States for their willingness to lend a helping hand
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