Reform of coastal shipping regulation will be good for farmers and good for the Australian economy, said the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) in a submission to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee on Friday. NFF President Brent Finlay said that opening up the Australian coast to competition will reduce farm business costs and drive higher farm gate returns. “Affordable shipping is an important issue for Australian farmers. All commercial produce is transported from the farm gate to market, and approximately two-thirds of all Australian produce is exported, either by air or by sea,” Mr Finlay said. “The current regulations mean farmers and suppliers don’t have the right to choose who carries their goods around the coast, so they can’t negotiate a fair price for the task. “They might reach agreement with one shipping company, only to find that their contract has been taken over by another company who is now demanding a higher price. “Australian agriculture faces significant opportunity, but we need strong leadership and policy settings that promote growth. “We have a reputation for being a premium provider of safe and sustainable food and fibre. But we also have an economy where prices are high in comparison to other parts of the world. To compete with overseas markets, we need efficient and effective freight systems. “This reform will deliver true competition around the Australian coast. Ultimately, open and fair markets mean a more prosperous economy, where our high standards of living are matched by affordability and value. “We urge the Committee to recommend that the reforms be passed without delay,” Mr Finlay said. A copy of the NFF submission on the Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 is available http://www.nff.org.au/get/submissions/5042.pdf[here].