NSW Farmers advocates for a profitable and sustainable NSW farming sector
NSW Farmers is Australia’s largest state farming organisation, representing the interests of its farmer members in the state. We are Australia’s only state-based farming organisation that represents farmers across all agricultural commodities. We also speak up on issues that matter to farmers, whether it’s the environment, biosecurity, water, animal welfare, economics, trade, or rural and regional affairs.
Agriculture is an 'engine room' industry in NSW. Farmers across the state produce more than $17 billion worth of food and fibre every year, or around 25 per cent of total national production. They also contribute significantly to the state’s exports. Agriculture is the heartbeat of regional communities, directly employing almost 2 per cent of the state’s workers and providing the foundation to roles in processing, manufacturing, retail, and hospitality across regional and metropolitan areas. The sector is building this contribution even further, working towards the target of $30 billion in economic output by 2030.
We have teams working across regional NSW and in Sydney to ensure key policies and messages travel from paddock to Parliament. Our regional branch network ensures local voices guide and shape our positions on issues affecting people and communities. Our branch members bring policy ideas to Annual Conference, our advisory committees provide specialist, practical advice to decision makers on issues affecting the sector, and our 60-member Executive Council makes the final decision on the policies we advocate on.
As well as advocating for farmers on issues that shape agriculture and regional areas, we provide direct business support and advice to our members. Our workplace relations team has a history of providing tailored, affordable business advice that can save our members thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, we maintain partnerships and alliances with like-minded organisations, universities, government agencies and commercial businesses across Australia. We are also a proud founding member of the National Farmers’ Federation.
A proud history
NSW Farmers, through its various incarnations, has supported the farmers of the state since the 1800s.
The Pastoralists' Union of NSW – one of the forerunners to NSW Farmers – was formed in 1890 to counter an attempt by the Shearers Union to enforce a ‘closed shop’ in shearing sheds meaning that farmers would be forced to only hire Shearers Union members. The Pastoralists’ success in this famous industrial dispute was to be the start of a range of farming industrial bodies, such as the Farmers' and Settlers' Association, which was established about 1893. Each of these organisations had proud histories and long lists of achievements, and NSW Farmers as we know it today owes a great deal to their grit and determination.
Throughout the 20th century, there was a gradual consolidation of farming groups. In 1916, the Pastoralists’ Union of NSW changed its name to the Graziers’ Association of NSW. The Wool and Wheat Growers' Association and the Farmers' and Settlers' Association, which had split in 1930, recombined as the United Farmers' and Woolgrowers' Association of New South Wales in 1962. In 1968, the United Farmers' and Woolgrowers' Association amalgamated with the Australian Primary Producers' Union (NSW Division) and the Apple and Pear Growers' Association; they were joined by the Vegetable Growers' Association the following year and were registered as the United Farmers' and Woolgrowers' Industrial Association of New South Wales.
In 1978, the United Farmers' and Woolgrowers' Association of New South Wales merged with the Graziers' Association of New South Wales to form the Livestock and Grain Producers Association of New South (LGPA NSW) and a strong, unified voice for agriculture in NSW was formed.
Individually, each of these organisations fought for rural industries and country people, but they realised they would be stronger together. They helped overcome the problems of isolation, poor communication, the transport and handling of produce, union militancy, and the challenges of climate. They saw the need for unity among farmers if they were to be fairly treated in the marketplace, before the industrial courts, and in the political process.
In January 1987, the LGPA changed its name to the NSW Farmers’ Association, commonly known as NSW Farmers. Between 1995 and 2002, NSW Farmers added oyster growers, chicken growers, dairy farmers, and pork producers to its broad advocacy remit.
After more than a century of advocacy and delivering political wins, NSW Farmers continues to grow and represent the needs of an ever-changing agricultural industry. Our long history and strong reputation as a trusted advocate opens doors across the political spectrum, while our commercial partnerships and expert advisers help farmers save money, solve problems and be more productive, no matter where they are across the state.