National Farmers' Federation

Ag leaders push for live trade reversal, housing and tax write-off

Reversing the live sheep trade phase out commitment, pursuing housing options for regional Australia, and extending the instant asset write off are some of the big issues agriculture will press the Federal Government on following a meeting of national farm leaders in Canberra this week.

The NFF Members’ Council brought together the key industry bodies representing farmers, including all state farming groups and commodity organisations from all sectors to set industry policy.

NFF President Fiona Simson said this week’s NFF Members’ Council was an important opportunity to discuss industry progress and liaise directly with decision makers – with Senators Murray Watt, David Pocock and Tim Ayres attending the meeting.

“We appreciate the senators’ willingness to engage in very frank and honest conversations directly with our members,” Ms Simson said.

Live sheep trade phase out
Ms Simson said the entire agriculture industry remained united and steadfast in its opposition to the phase-out of live sheep export, with attendees reiterating this red line issue with ministers Watt and Ayres.

“Our members from every industry, and every part of the country remain gravely concerned about this policy. We heard both ministers talk about growing trade and using evidence to drive the future of agriculture in Australia.

“We’ll continue to call on the government to back up their rhetoric and provide evidence for their decisions.

“Every part of the farm sector is nervous that a government could fall victim to the ideology and misinformation of radical activists rather than back farmers and simply act on the evidence.”

Regional Housing and Accommodation Policy
The Council passed the NFF’s Regional Housing and Accommodation Policy aimed at advocating for a long-term and nationally coordinated approach.

“Regional communities are hurting with vacancy rates below 1%. This is paralysing farmers’ ability to attract and retain workers,” Ms Simson said.

Ms Simson said there was a raft of ways the NFF would push the government to take action, including: investigating tax incentives; faster planning approvals; improving access to finance; and creating a dedicated Regional Housing Infrastructure Investment Fund.

“There is no silver bullet, but we need the Federal Government to step up its leadership to solve this problem in partnership with industry.”

Instant asset write-off
Ms Simson said farmers continued to hold out hope that the Instant Asset Write-Off measure would be extended in the upcoming Federal Budget.

“The measure is an exceptional incentive for farmers to invest in the plant they need to improve productivity, to be more resilient and sustainable, and to make their workspaces safer and less labour-intensive.”

The NFF has sought to clarify the operation of the scheme as it currently stands in light of significant delays to existing machinery orders. NFF members will seek an extension to cover plant and machinery ordered and invoiced prior to 30 June 2023 – where those goods haven’t been received.

“It makes no sense that farmers who in good faith, bought equipment before the deadline should miss out through no fault of their own.”

Environmental legislation reform
Industry leaders reiterated their support for agriculture to be adequately considered as Minister Plibersek frames her environmental policy priorities in the context of her Nature Positive Plan and reforms to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act).

The Nature Repair Markets Bill is before Parliament and will create a framework for biodiversity credits, but farmers confirmed the view that good practice must be recognised.

“Additionality cannot be a requirement for biodiversity credits. That would create perverse incentives, and penalise those who have already invested in doing the right thing out of their own pocket.

“In addition to that, reforms to the EPBC regime and the Government’s commitment to ‘protect’ 30% of land was seen as another example of where agriculture and the role farmers play in managing the landscape must be acknowledged,” Ms Simson concluded.