NSW Farmers has launched its eight-point reform plan for agriculture and regional NSW as the state looks to recover and rebuild economically from the Covid-19 crisis.
As an annual contributor of around $11.9 billion to the NSW economy, agriculture will be a key industry driving the recovery process.
NSW Farmers’ President James Jackson said while agriculture can help NSW recoup recent economic losses, there is potential for the industry to add even more if certain barriers to growth are minimised or removed.
“Agriculture has played a key role during the crisis, and it will be critical in the aftermath as well,” Mr Jackson said.
“Export ‘engine’ industries- like agriculture, food and fibre- will play a critical role in bringing in income from overseas to Australia to enable us to pay down government debts and rebuild our economy – the faster we grow our export industries, the less debt we will be passing on to future generations.
“This period is also a great opportunity to address obstacles facing the industry, and it coincides with the key planning stage for NSW agriculture’s goal of reaching $30 billion by 2030 and the national industry’s goal of reaching $100 billion by the same date.
“We’re at a critical juncture. The NSW and federal governments need to be aware of where and how productivity can be improved in agriculture, and we will play an integral role in providing those insights,” Mr Jackson said.
The NSW Farmers’ plan provides a guide for strengthening supply chains and infrastructure, growing farming businesses, securing a Right to Farm, creating fair and competitive supply chains, driving premium products and value adding, improving and expanding market opportunities, building vibrant regions, and achieving water and environmental reforms.
Mr Jackson said the first step in building agriculture will be strengthening supply chains.
“Currently, we are missing major infrastructure opportunities to make our supply chains as efficient and robust as possible.
“Road improvements between Sydney and the Central West could mean fresh produce reaches Sydney and export hubs like the Western Sydney Airport in under three hours.
“We note the Coalition commitment in 2019 to significantly upgrade the Great Western Highway across the Blue Mountains. This upgrade must be fast-tracked with funding certainty so tunnels, bypasses and multi-lane carriageways can be constructed.
“Certainty of movement across the NSW road network will be critical for supply surety, and will reduce the heavy burden of transport costs.
“New opportunities for localised regional freight hubs will aid regional job creation and improve efficiency of delivering freight to distribution centres, including to air and sea ports,” Mr Jackson concluded.
A copy of the report can be found here.