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National Farmers' Federation

Our Committees

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) uses committees to develop and advocate policy positions on issues critical to Australian agriculture. 

Our seven Committees and one Taskforce are the ‘engine room’ of this process facilitating evidence-based, democratic policy formation driven by farmers. 

NFF Members nominate representatives to committees and taskforces based on their expertise and interests. Committees and Taskforces met a number of times throughout each year and whenever an issue requires.

Reliable and affordable sources of energy are critical to agriculture. This taskforce is focused on the complex intersection of the farm sector, energy generation and climate change. 

The Taskforce works to develop policies and advocate for reform to improve the efficiency and operation of the National Electricity Market for the benefit of agriculture and develop policies to facilitate adoption of low emissions technologies for the farm sector.

The major concern today is to solve the trilemma of reliability, affordability and emissions reduction in a rapidly changing energy landscape in Australia and support agriculture’s transition to allow businesses to adapt and thrive and remain globally competitive.

Key policy positions include:

  • NFF supports a national energy policy that solves the trilemma of reliability, affordability and emissions reduction, especially in a rapidly changing energy landscape
  • A national energy plan must be technology-neutral, market-based and economy-wide
  • NFF supports innovation to capture the full range of opportunities to improve energy productivity, energy efficiency and low emissions energy generation, including renewable, thermal and kinetic energy;
  • NFF supports the use of credible and high quality emissions offset and credit scheme that includes pathways for Australian agriculture to generate and trade emissions credits
  • The 26% target should be the minimum target for the electricity sector. Any measures that achieve greater reduction in the sector must be consistent with resolving the trilemma of affordability, reliability and sustainability
  • Australian Government develop a coordinated national approach to adaptation to climate change and managing emissions in the agricultural sector.

Taskforce Chair: Gerry Leach

Agriculture is a powerhouse of the Australian economy. Farmers contribute about $60 billion to the nation’s GDP each year. Farm exports were valued at $44.8 billion in 2016-2017. Farmers operate in highly competitive global market.

They depend on smart policy that promotes their growth from the farm gate to market.

This Committee puts a lense over polices that most impact farmers bottom lines including tax; access to capital; transport and infrastructure; competition policy and drought. 

Key policy positions include:

  • Drought: We want to see the NFF National Drought Policy – a comprehensive and coordinated approach to drought preparedness and support – implemented in Australia.
  • Consistent National Transport Regulations: It is critical to the growth of agriculture that the regulation of heavy vehicles is harmonised, simplified and made more practical. Ensuring fair and adequate funding for rural and regional roads is also a priority.
  • On-Farm Financial Risk Management: The NFF is leading investigative work into tools and behaviours which will enable farmers to better manage the risks to their business’s financial position.
  • Competition Policy: We work to ensure fairness and healthy competition in agricultural markets and supply chains.
  • Investment in Agriculture: Increased investment in Australian agriculture, facilitated by innovative business models and new sources of finance, is crucial to the continued competitiveness of Australian agriculture in the global market.

Committee Chair: Sue Middleton

Farming Systems Committee

Australian farmers are renowned for their innovation and adoption of world-class operating standards.

To maintain their global reputation for the production of quality safe food and fibre, farmers require policies and regulation that promote on-farm productivity, profitability and sustainability and which assist farmers to meet the community’s standards and expectations.

The Farming Systems Committee is focussed on issues that relate directly to farm management including biosecurity, animal welfare, Agvet chemical regulation, research and development and social licence. 

Key policy positions include: 

  • Animal welfare 
  • Biosecurity
  • Agvet chemical regulation and use
  • Biotechnology
  • R&D and innovation
  • Social licence

Committee Chair: Melinee Leather

Australian farmers manage 51% per cent of the Australian landscape.

Every day farmers invest in and deliver positive environment outcomes on behalf of all Australians.

Farmers value living and working in an environment that marries biodiversity with productivity crops and livestock.

This committee is focused on the development of sensible and pragmatic policies, programs and strategies to balance farm sector development and production needs with the natural environment, and to enable our sector to demonstrate its sustainability credentials.

Specifically the Committee addresses: Climate; land use and land use change; Federal environmental law; and Commonwealth investment in NRM and Landcare.

The Committee is currently focused on ensuring the Commonwealth EPBC Act can work with farmers to deliver environmental outcomes, changing the relationship between agriculture and environmental legislation and establishing a natural capital market that can recognise and reward farmers for managing the environment. 

Key policy positions include:

  • The scope Threatened Species Scientific Committee under the EPBC Act must include at least two representatives with formal qualifications and practical experience in productive landscape management
  • The development of formal conservation advice under the EPBC Act should require social and economic considerations, consistent with the principles of Ecological Sustainable Development.
  • The NFF supports the use of carryover from earlier commitments to meet emissions reduction targets.
  • NFF supports farmers’ right to management land both for and against wind and solar farms, particularly on agricultural lands considered prime agriculture lands.
  • NFF supports pursuit of multiple benefits under the Climate Solutions Fund
  • NFF supports Craik review recommendation of a $1 billion National Biodiversity Conservation Trust to support the public benefits of protection of matters of national environmental significant through adoption of a market-based approach that incentivises farmers to protecting and manage matters.

Committee Chair: Angus Atkinson

The Australian Farm Institute estimates the adoption of digital technologies could add up to $20 billion to agriculture’s bottom line.

To achieve this regional, rural and remote Australia must have access to connectivity and telecommunications options comparable to their urban counter parts.

This Committee advocates for regulation and investment that will deliver equitable access to modern digital communications, and to support healthy farm communities.

Key policy positions include:

  • Telecommunications access
  • Digital literacy
  • Farm data management
  • Health – including mental health
  • Regional education

Committee Chair: Peter Thompson

Three quarters of Australia’s food and fibre is exported.

Australian farmers compete in a price sensitive global market and are amongst the developed world’s least subsidised farmers.

Our agriculture sector depends on free, liberalised market access.

The Trade committee is committed to advancing agriculture’s interests in the negotiation of preferential trade agreements and for advocating for sensible trade protocols.

Key policy positions include:

  • EU-FTA: The NFF is advocating strongly and determinedly to ensure that any free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union provides significant new market access for Australian farmers. We resist the attempt by the European Union to impose its system of Geographical Indications on Australian producers.
  • UK-FTA: The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union presents an opportunity for Australian farmers to gain substantial new access to UK consumers. It is important that the Australian and UK governments strike a free trade agreement which provides this access.
  • Agricultural Subsidies Reform: Many foreign governments provide subsidies to their farmers. These subsidies cause significant distortions in global markets for agricultural commodities, putting Australian farmers at an unfair disadvantage. Through our own initiatives and joint initiatives of the Cairns Group Farm Leaders, the NFF is working to reduce these subsidies and create a level playing-field for all nations.
  • Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs): Non-tariff barriers preventing easy access to foreign markets are a great frustration for Australian exporters. The NFF strives to eliminate these barriers wherever possible.

Committee Chair: Ms Fiona Simson

The role of this Committee is to lead the national policy debate on the management of water, specifically the Murray Darling Basin Plan, action on the Great Artesian Basin and the National Water Initiative.

The overall objective is to play a role in the adoption of policies that delivers for agriculture, communities and the environment – the triple bottom line.

Key policy positions include:

  • Basin States and Commonwealth commit to implement in full the recommendations of the 2018 Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan 
  • Governments to explore flexible pathways to allow new, improved or replacement SDLAM projects over time and ensure greater participation and communication.
  • Acquisition of water toward the 450 GL should prioritise off-farm sources to ensure the consumptive pool is not reduced, and should be linked to progress on relaxing constraints to enable the water to be delivered, consistent with the Productivity Commission recommendation.
  • The recovery of the additional 450 GL can only proceed if there are no negative socio-economic outcomes, consistent with criteria developed at the December 2018 Basin Ministerial Council.
  • Appropriate reforms to the water market that provide greater confidence and transparency in water trading, should be implemented expeditiously.
  • Genuine economic and social investment in communities adversely affected by water reforms must be a priority for governments.
  • A clear, proper process for over-recovered water to be addressed, including exploring the option to return water to the consumptive pool, informed by meaningful consultation with communities in affected valleys.
  • Governments must have a greater commitment to adopting complementary measures, that go beyond the existing requirements of the Plan, so as to optimise environmental outcomes.

Committee Chair: Les Gordon

Our people are agriculture’s most valued resource.

The sector provides career and lifestyle opportunities unrivalled by any other industry.

The work of this Committee includes advocating for policies to improve the safety and wellbeing of farmers, farm workers and families; fostering a productive and flexible workplace that supports diversity and participation; and promoting agriculture as a vocation of choice.

Key policy positions include:

  • Industrial relations;
  • Workforce planning and migration issues;
  • Workplace education and training; and
  • Farm safety

Committee Chair: Mr Tony York