National Farmers' Federation

Election 2016: Innovation the key to agricultural competitiveness

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has called on all sides of politics to adopt policies that will allow Australia to lead the globe in agriculture and deliver prosperity to the sector and across regional communities. NFF President Brent Finlay said Australian farmers had always been world leaders in innovation and this was evident in international competitiveness and soaring demand for the nation’s premium agricultural products. However, Mr Finlay said immediate work was required to remove impediments still standing between farmers adopting digital agriculture and innovative farming practices that would allow the sector to perform to the best of its ability. “This election the NFF is focusing its efforts on highlighting to all parties and political candidates that much more must be done to improve data and mobile connectivity in the regions so that antiquated technology does not stand in the way of the farm sector’s performance,” Mr Finlay said. “Without adequate connectivity, farmers simply cannot adopt practices such as farm equipment automation, spatially-enabled agriculture and big data supported decision tools to enhance production efficiency.” While the NFF welcomed last week’s commitment from the Coalition of an additional $60 million of funding for the Mobile Black Spot Programme, the organisation also reiterated it was critical all parties clearly understood long-term investment was required to address connectivity issues permanently. Mr Finlay said beyond improving digital connectivity and telecommunications in the regions, Governments must also support continued agricultural innovation by: • Progressing efforts to phase out of state-based moratoria of the cultivation of genetically modified products to provide farmers with greater production choice and options to improve their productivity; • Improving regulatory settings such as intellectual property protection and access to technologies for private entities wanting to engage in R&D research; • Maintaining a commitment to the broad architecture of the rural research and development corporation model, including government matching of industry levies; and • Committing to a cross-jurisdictional review of agricultural extension services, investigating how new research can be best rolled out to the agricultural industry. “We know agriculture can be Australia’s next $100 billion industry and that we have opportunities before us that have rarely before been seen by the sector,” he said. “But we must have the infrastructure and tools necessary to act on this opportunity so that we can continue to lead the world in our field and be one of the foremost contributors to the Australian economy.” For further details of what agriculture needs to thrive go to the NFF’s full list of 2016 election asks at http://www.accelerateag.com

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