NSW Farmers is ushering in the New Year with an advocacy ‘wish list’ that will help hit the goal of $30 billion in farmgate output by 2030.
After closing the book on a record-breaking year for agriculture – despite successive setbacks of flooding, a global pandemic, and a mouse plague – NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the farming sector had an exciting period ahead.
“There are some big challenges ahead that agriculture will have to navigate such as climate targets and a growing global population, so we are adapting to meet those challenges,” Mr Jackson said.
“I think there are five key areas in terms of growth opportunities and areas for reform.”
Foremost among NSW Farmers priorities was stabilising workforce uncertainty created by COVID-19 border restrictions and setting rural and regional communities up for success.
“Our reliance on overseas workers came to a head over the past two years and action must be taken to solve our long-term workforce issues as well as meeting more pressing needs, which require the pre-pandemic movement of people,” Mr Jackson said.
“Infrastructure will play a key role in an economic rebound from COVID-19 – but for regional NSW, infrastructure investment must go beyond road, rail, and air access and look at the internet and connectivity requirements of businesses and communities.
“Another key spending area should be in research and development, which can do everything from improving crop yields to finding biosecurity solutions for bugs, pests and even mice.”
Mr Jackson said NSW Farmers would also pay close attention to potential battlegrounds for agriculture, including land use planning and animal welfare.
“With renewable energy set to consume more space in regional areas, farmers need to be ahead of the energy transition and what it means for the division of land,” he said.
“We need to balance the global move to carbon reduction with food security to ensure our finite agricultural resources are protected in the swift transition to renewables, and forward-thinking land use planning will be central to this.
“Animal welfare is a growing philosophical battleground, and NSW Farmers remains committed to pursuing a science-based approach that has data at its core.”