Those of you who were at the National Farmer’s Federation National Congress this week – and anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the media – will know that the government released the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper at the Congress on Monday.
It’s heartening to see the Green Paper building on many of the key priorities identified for agriculture in the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture, which was written up by our team here at Seftons early in 2013 after a 12-month consultation period with the industry, under the auspices of the NFF.
Competition; research, development & extension; education; market access; natural resources – these and other issues were common across the Blueprint and the Green Paper. To me this highlights the value of that year-long consultation for the Blueprint and the effort that the industry – individually and collectively – made to consider the issues that affect us and map out the ways forward.
The Green Paper makes clear the cornerstones of the government’s agriculture policy – achieving better farm gate returns. It’s important for us as an industry to continue to have our say on how those returns can be achieved – contributing our ideas on how to reinvigorate extension, develop innovative solutions for investment in agriculture, promote competition in the supply chain, improve Australia’s access to export markets, build agriculture as a vibrant part of society and an appealing career choice, build better relationships with the wider Australian community and protect our environment so that our industry is truly sustainable.
We need to remember that the Green Paper is addressing the coming decades, not those behind us. New technologies may completely transform the way we do business in the near future. Potentially high-impact issues, such as climate change, might require swift and proactive responses to unexpected changes. We must remain much more innovative and flexible than we’ve been in the past – these are absolute preconditions for success.
Seftons is working with the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations to coordinate a combined response to the Green Paper by the 15 rural research and development corporations – as we did earlier in the year, working with the CRRDC on its response to the initial Agricultural Competitiveness Issues Paper.
It’s an exciting time in agriculture – we all have the chance to influence how our industry is going to look in the future. Let’s not miss out.