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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2013
SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2013 31 agriculture. And while we are pleased that the Government has listened, we are still waiting for the rhetoric to be turned into action. At the time of writing, some two months after the Farm Finance package was announced, not a single cent has been passed on to farmers in need, because the Federal, State and Territory Governments have not yet reached agreement on how this package will be rolled out. This is extremely frustrating to Australian farmers, and reinforces the NFF's call for strong and sensible policy decisions from our Government. It is essential that the politics of government does not get in the way of policy outcomes. Just as there are challenges facing some parts of the agricultural sector at the moment, there are also strong opportunities ahead. Positively, the outlook for agriculture in Australia continues to look up. The latest forecast from ABARES, released in June 2013, predicts that the value of Australia's farm exports will be $35.8 billion in 2013- 14, up from $32.5 billion in 2010-11 and just short of the $36.4 billion achieved in 2011-12. The rise of Asia means that Australian agriculture has a strong role to play in helping to feed and clothe our northern neighbours. Close to 50 percent of the world's population live directly to Australia's north, and Australia is extremely well placed to build our position as a key supplier. The NFF Congress, held in Canberra in October 2012 and attended by the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, outlined exactly this opportunity: the pending world food and fibre boom and the role Australian farmers can play -- if we, as a sector, are ready to seize them. This again comes back to sensible decision making from Government. What is required is a long-term vision and Government policies that support, not strangle, agriculture. There's also a critical role for the Australian agricultural sector to play in ensuring we are prepared -- as shown through the release of the NFF-led, industry-developed Blueprint for Australian Agriculture in 2013. This document marks the first strategic plan for the future of Australia's agriculture sector and its supply chain, developed by the agricultural sector and supply chain. The Blueprint identified seven key areas in which action must happen today to ensure a strong future for agriculture tomorrow: innovation and research, development and extension, competitiveness, trade and market access, people, agriculture within society, natural resources and transformation issues. The Blueprint shows that while Government decision making and policy development is critical, it is up to the agricultural sector as a whole to be the driving force behind our future success. And ensuring that we are well placed to capitalise on this future is the role of the NFF and the SCA. Through our core responsibilities of policy determination and advocacy, and ultimately guided by the findings of the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture, the NFF will continue to steer a course for the sector, fighting for the best outcomes for our farmers and ensuring a strong and sustainable future for Australian agriculture as a whole. For further information www.nff.org.au NATIONAL FARMERS FEDERATION NFF President Duncan Fraser addresses the Parliamentary press gallery on Federal Budget night 2013. Image courtesy Colin Bettles.