The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has labelled the Government’s prioritisation of food manufacturing a smart choice, which will pay dividends in the regions and give the Modern Manufacturing Strategy its best chance of success.
Responding to the Government’s pre-budget announcement today, NFF President Fiona Simson said it made sense in the current climate to play to our economic strengths.
“Australia is blessed with a world-class agriculture sector, which has been incredibly resilient in the face of COVID-19,” Ms Simson said.
“Already, food is the mainstay of Australian manufacturing, employing more than 200,000 Australians.
“But there is still enormous scope for growth – particularly in our regional centres – as COVID-19 makes people second guess life in our capital cities,” Ms Simson said.
In June this year, the NFF’s Get Australia Growing economic recovery strategy called on Government to put food and fibre at the heart of its plans to revitalise manufacturing.
“New technologies are reshaping the economics of value-adding here in Australia,” Ms Simson said.
“With targeted investment in advanced manufacturing, and the right policy settings for things like labour, skills, energy and telecommunications, we can start to lure back industries which have flown the coop in recent decades.”
The NFF also hopes that the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, which forms part of today’s announcement, can help sure-up vulnerabilities in the ag supply chain exposed by COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has reminded us just how anaemic our manufacturing capacity is for critical farm inputs – things like chemicals, fertilisers and machinery.
“Making everything here in Australia will never be the answer, but it’s a sensible time to take stock of our vulnerabilities and see what can be done to address them into the future.”
Ms Simson said it was critical that the Modern Manufacturing Strategy aligned closely with yesterday’s regional development announcements by the Deputy Prime Minister, including the Regional Recovery Partnerships Program.
“This budget is shaping up to include a number of transformative measures for regional Australia.
“Success will depend on coordination across government, and collaboration with state and local governments to give this the impact we need as we rebuild from COVID.”