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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2013
30 SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2013 National Farmers Federation In just 12 weeks, from becoming President in early April to the end of the financial year in late June, we've had the release of the Federal Budget and the launch of the National Food Plan. We've seen the announcement of the Farm Finance package and the National Drought Policy Reform. We've progressed the trade agenda through negotiations in both Japan and Peru and we've helped northern cattle producers and the Australian livestock export industry respond to an issue in wEgypt. We've driven forward our Blueprint for Australian Agriculture through a forum of industry leaders, and seen a change in Australia's Prime Minister and other senior cabinet positions, including the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Trade in the last Parliamentary sitting week in Canberra. As they say, a week is a long time in politics. In fact, in just my first week on the job, I travelled to Japan to meet with key government and industry representatives to talk about the free trade agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership, then to Melbourne where I spoke at The Australian's Global Food Forum on how to transfer growing markets in Asia into on-farm opportunities at home. Being a farmer, that's where the real value in agricultural representative bodies, like the NFF and our member, SCA, lies: the role we play in shaping outcomes and growing opportunities. This was the focus for the NFF during 2012-13: a focus on ensuring strong, sensible policy outcomes for the farming sector, so that agriculture is well placed to capitalise on the opportunities, and overcome the challenges, ahead. Like last year, 2012-13 has again been a year of contradictions. We've seen a return to dry conditions and drought in some parts of the country, bushfires and floods in others. Some farmers are experiencing an increase in production and yields, and all are facing the challenges of a high Australian dollar, increased input costs and fluctuating commodity prices. Like many other agricultural commodities, Australia's sheep meat sector has not been immune, with difficult seasonal conditions placing a huge strain on producers, many of whom have had to sell off unfinished stock. The fact that farmers in some parts of Australia are finding it exceptionally tough at the moment is why the NFF welcomed, in principal, the announcement of the Farm Finance package by the Federal Government in April 2013. The package is designed to provide support to farmers suffering financial strains, through, among other measures, the provision of concessional loans to assist farmers in restructuring their debt. In announcing the package, the Government spoke of the need to invest in productivity and prepare for the future -- exactly what we have been calling on the Government to do, particularly leading into the upcoming Federal Election, in reprioritising Australian What a year it has been for Australian farmers and the agriculture sector – and what a whirlwind few months it has been for me since taking over as President of the NFF following the resignation of former President, Jock Laurie. NFF President Duncan Fraser with former Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig.