What NSW Farmers has achieved

Updated August 2020

1. Drought

In one of the most severe droughts on record, NSW Farmers has achieved financial benefits for farmer members and the rural community, and helped shape several Australian and NSW Government policies. These include the expanded $1.8 billion NSW drought support package consisting of subsidies for transport, waivers for LLS and western lands rates, relief of water standing charges and new concessional loans, and a further $310 million support package in mid-2020Improved access to Farm Household Allowance and Regional Investment Corporation loans will help farmers manage their businesses through drought. Our input was also crucial in developing the Future Drought Fund and NFF National Drought Policy, accepted by the Australian Government.

2. Strengthening security

Farmers need to know they can securely carry out their business and lives without fear of interruption, intimidation, or risk of harm to themselves, their families or their assets – whether that’s infrastructure, crops or livestock. NSW Farmers’ successful advocacy has strengthened security for farmers. Tougher trespass laws under the NSW Right to Farm Bill now see penalties more than doubled to $13,200 and/or 12 months imprisonment for aggravated trespass on agricultural land. Our work also means rural trespassers can be given on-the-spot fines that recognise the biosecurity risk they create. We have also been able to achieve deeper farmer awareness of rights and responsibilities, by delivering 26 Security Awareness workshops with the NSW Police Rural Crime Prevention Team. 

3. Expanding transport access

Road freight is vital to farm businesses and a well functioning economy. NSW Farmers has successfully sought a range of improvements for farmers across vehicle size, permits and responsibilities for safe road transport. Working with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, NSW Farmers has achieved broader access for oversize/overmass vehicles on regional roads and has been behind increased legal load widths for fodder transport. We’re proud NSW led this adoption nationally. Our work with Transport for NSW has seen improved road access and reduced the complexity of permit requirements, while our advocacy to clarify Chain of Responsibility requirements for the farming sector has reduced unintended stress created by its uncertainties. 

4. More effective pest management

Pests have a major impact on NSW farm businesses, often leaving emotional legacies for farmers forced to deal with the major devastation. For both these reasons, NSW Farmers’ successful advocacy across a gamut of pest management initiatives has been highly important. In dealing with wild dogs, our work has resulted in a doubling of the length of the Wild Dog Exclusion Fence along the state’s western and northern borders with $37.5m of government funding, and achieving funding for the NSW Western Wild Dog Coordinator to ensure farmers receive on-the-ground wild dog management support. In managing deer, farmers are no longer subject to game-licensing requirements, while the onerous tagging and shoot and let-lie requirements have been suspended.  
 

5. Supporting our young farmers 

NSW Farmers is proud to be leading the charge on ensuring the next generation has the tools to continue driving Australian agriculture sustainably into the future. Our advocacy has resulted in the provision of Agristarter loans from the Federal Government, which will assist young people and first-time farmers to get their start on the land. We’re continuing to partner with the Young Farmer Business Program to roll out financial workshops across the state, and our Young Farmer Council meets regularly with politicians to discuss issues affecting young people in agriculture in New South Wales. 

6. Affordable, sustainable energy

Rising energy costs have placed a large burden on the farming sector, exacerbating the financial effects of drought and bushfires for farm businesses and the farming families who run them. Having access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy is a must, and NSW Farmers’ advocacy is delivering better energy outcomes for our members. We have also continued our ongoing work with the energy sector to develop the Energy Industry Customer Charter, which requires public accountability from energy companies, including around the basic area of affordability.  We have also electricity pricing and reliability issues through submissions to IPART on electricity reliability standards and the NSW Government Energy Security Target and Safeguard.

7. Improving workplace relations

NSW Farmers has worked across several fronts of workplace relations, supporting members to navigate through the intricacies of workplace laws. Our advocacy has resulted in funding of $2.8 million to extend the Quad Bike Safety Improvement Program (including rebates) to 2021, which has also been expanded to include drone rebates. NSW Farmers, through the National Farmers’ Federation, continues to advocate for primary producers’ interests in the Awards Review proceedings.

8. Reducing ‘green tape’

Farmers are custodians of over 81% of land in NSW.  They carefully balance the management of natural resources to produce the quality food and fibre on which we depend.  NSW Farmers was successful in lobbying for important reforms to the NSW Land Management framework to allow farmers to better balance production and environmental outcomes on their land.  But the job is not done, we continue to lobby for improved flexibility to allow farmers to grow their enterprises, and believe that if farmers are expected to manage their land for biodiversity outcomes, then they should be properly paid for delivering these public goods.

9. Protecting access to the diesel fuel rebate

Farms rely on diesel fuel in equipment across most business operations: for sowing, harvesting, feeding livestock and general tractor work, as well as in irrigation. The diesel fuel rebate is therefore highly important to primary producers to help reduce input costs. Rebate rates are indexed twice yearly, in line with the consumer price index, and as of February 2020, the rebate is 16.5 cents/litre for vehicles travelling on public roads and 42.3 cents/litre for other business uses. NSW Farmers’ advocacy has successfully protected access to the diesel-fuel rebate for farmers across NSW, giving assurance around these major business costs. 

10. Better telecommunications

NSW Farmers continues to contribute to telecommunications reforms to provide more reliable, affordable, quality telecommunications to farming communities and businesses across NSW. Rural, regional and remote areas deserve parity of access and price with metropolitan areas. NSW Farmers has been highlighting the importance of quality connectivity through a number of submissions including Alternative Voice Service Trials, Regional Connectivity Grants, Digital Technology Hub, Telecommunications Reform Package, and the Mobile Black Spot Program, highlighting safety, wellbeing, business, health and education needs of farmers and regional communities. NSW Farmers will continue to advocate for further funding and meaningful action on this important issue.