Better planning for the sustainability of the agriculture sector will be the key responsibility for a new Agricultural Advocate proposed by NSW Farmers. Better managing and preventing land use conflict, adapting to a changing climate and understanding the true cost of environmental stewardship are essential if we are to grow the value of agriculture and ensure a profitable and sustainable future for the sector.
Managing the demands placed on our land is a key concern of farmers across the state. From coal mining to emerging renewable industries, farmers want to ensure that highly productive agricultural land is not traded for the short term gain of other industries. Planning conflicts, including from mining or gas extraction and encroachment by housing in peri-urban areas, must be managed to ensure agriculture can continue to flourish. There are risks attached to some land use practices which, if allowed to continue, could threaten the viability of farming.
Preserving our high value agricultural land is essential to the future of the industry and our capacity to feed and clothe ourselves and millions of others around the world. Similarly, innovation in urban design and in planning ordinances is needed to retain and grow farming in built up areas. Other countries have found ways to enable intensive production to flourish side-by-side with domestic land use. New South Wales can lead Australia in planning strategically for the future of urban agriculture in Sydney, on the east coast and around our regional towns.
Modelled along the lines of similar advocates within government, the Agricultural Advocate will partner with industry and engage with the agencies of government to analyse key trends in agriculture and plan for future demand. This will not simply be limited to environmental demand, but must also consider supply chains, competition, food safety and research and development issues affecting agriculture.
The Advocate will report annually to Parliament on the state of agriculture in New South Wales, outlining key trends, key challenges and opportunities for the sector. Within government, the Advocate will be expected to be a champion for the sector, particularly in areas such as planning, environment, transport and infrastructure and resources and energy. It will play a complementary role to the work of industry advocacy groups such as NSW Farmers to ensure we can continue to grow the value of agriculture towards $100 billion by 2030.