Strong interest in farming from Labor

NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin has thanked NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns for his interest in agriculture, with several key policies announced this week.

The state Labor leader made his pitch to primary producers at the NSW Farmers annual conference on Thursday, promising to deliver an independent Agriculture Commissioner and a fresh focus on domestic biosecurity.

Mr Martin said Mr Minns addressed a few of the state’s peak agricultural advocacy body’s long-standing asks.

“Australian farmers produce the food and fibre we all enjoy, and it’s critical to have support for this important sector right across the political spectrum,” Mr Martin said.

“At the moment, there’s a lot of talk about supporting farmers after the natural disasters we’ve lived through, but in the halls of government the impact of environmental priorities, urban expansion and infrastructure on rural land is simply not being addressed.

“Without an improved understanding in government of how to resolve the fragmentation and loss of productive rural land, the continued threats to farming land leads to a challenge to investment, innovation and to regional communities.”

Mr Martin said NSW Farmers had long campaigned for a truly independent agriculture commissioner, who could be a source of knowledge and advice to government, and who could facilitate co-ordination and partnership.

“We had a great presentation from NSW Agriculture Commissioner Daryl Quinlivan during our conference and we work well with him, we simply think his role should be expanded, independent and given clout,” Mr Martin said.

“There are new opportunities in regional NSW for partnerships between farmers and government – say in environmental gains through on-farm natural capital enhancement – where management of land and incentives from government work together without impacting production capacity.

“This is why it is important have an independent Agriculture Commissioner who can assist whole-of-government decisions to build better planning, environmental and production outcomes, because we’re missing some of those partnership opportunities.”

Mr Minns also promised to legislate and fund an Independent Biosecurity Commission, headed by a new Biosecurity Commissioner, to provide independent advice and report to Parliament on an annual basis.

“Fundamentally, good biosecurity is about keeping diseases, pests and weeds under control, so they don’t impact agriculture or the environment, but here in NSW our members have reported increased pests and weeds coming onto their property from public land,” Mr Martin said.

“It is frustrating when farmers do so much to control pests and weeds only to get infestations from the national park or road next door, and it’s important those public land managers are held to the same standards as everyone else.

“I think it is positive to see biosecurity being elevated as an issue and recognised as a significant risk to agriculture and the economy, and this suggestion of an independent Biosecurity Commissioner is a key step in the right direction.”

Date: Friday, July 22, 2022
Media Contact: Steve Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | [email protected]