By Grayson Genders on
09 November 2023
Conditions for Australian farmers have never been tougher, yet the industry remains resilient, continuously adapting and innovating to meet the nation's food and fibre needs.
Nevertheless, several external challenges currently pose a threat to our farmers. These challenges include a shifting climate, a growing population requiring sustenance, and a rising-cost-of-living crisis, resulting in soaring food prices.
To alleviate the cost-of-living burden and ensure our nation's food security, we must support our farmers in their crucial role of providing food for our tables.
Regrettably, in Canberra, the government seems to be working against the interests of our farmers. Our own federal government appears out of touch, and their policies have created a complex operating environment, which is far from letting farmers get on with the job.
In the Murray-Darling Basin, the government's water buyback initiative threatens to cripple farm production, reduce arable land, and destroy the livelihoods of many. The federal parliament is currently considering legislation that will amend the previously agreed-upon Murray-Darling Basin plan among the states.
This can only result in reduced food availability and higher prices, along with fewer farmers in the field and more costs for consumers. There are more effective ways to invest directly in the health of our waterways, wetlands, and aquatic ecosystems, achieving better environmental outcomes.
Australia's productive land faces threats from new energy projects, the construction of transmission lines, mining ventures, and urban expansion. Despite our large landmass, we have a limited amount of productive land to support our growing population.
Farmers will struggle to meet food production demands, as they face workforce recruitment challenges and supply chain issues. Like many advanced economies, we rely on overseas workers, without whom we cannot grow or process food.
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We urgently need a dedicated visa pathway for agricultural workers. Instead, the government has introduced changes to visa programs and labor laws, making it harder and more expensive for small family businesses to hire staff. Farmers will choose not to plant crops and food processors are already operating at reduced capacity because of the workforce issue.
Locally Tasmanian Farmers are being asked by our state government to bear the financial burden of the state governments proposed new fire levy models.
Rural residents already volunteer their time for firefighting and emergency services, often using personal equipment and paying farm workers. This valuable, unrecognised contribution significantly reduces government costs, ensuring community safety. Nevertheless, rural homes lack equal emergency services and fire protection compared to suburban areas.
Farmers are being asked to do more than their fair share and feel unfairly treated, as food and fibre production appears to be overshadowed by policy drivers like climate change and lack of consultation. To achieve the desired transition in our economy, Australian policy settings must be fair and balanced, ensuring that we can continue to support our agricultural sector and keep farmers farming.
Support Aussie farmers by heading to keepfarmersfarming.org.au