With the election confirmed for September 7, the nation’s peak agriculture advocacy body, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is looking to politicians to provide clarity on their policies, and commit to action for the agriculture sector. NFF President Duncan Fraser said Australian agriculture needs to be a priority for all sides of Parliament this coming election. The NFF will be looking for agriculture to be elevated in the policy debate between major parties. “Now that we have certainty in terms of the election date, we’re looking equal certainty in policy issues, so farmers can get on with their job. We encourage all political parties to consider how they can best serve a strong, vibrant agriculture sector that ensures that Australians continue to have access to a sustainable supply of Australian grown food and fibre,” Mr Fraser said. “Through the National Food Plan, The Asian Century White Paper and as recently as this morning through media comments from the Prime Minister, the government have signalled that food, fibre and agriculture are a priority. Similarly the Coalition have indicated their commitment to the sector with agriculture as one of their key policy pillars. What farmers and the broader rural sector now need to see is the detail behind the rhetoric, so that they can make up their own minds about what the major parties and independents have to offer. “Between now and September 7, major political parties will be judged by the NFF on their commitment to the agriculture sector and long-term policy vision. A scorecard system will provide an evaluation of the policies of each of the parties, available for farmers and anyone else interested in pursuing a strong vision for Australian agriculture.” Mr Fraser said. With five weeks until the election, the NFF has five key policy priorities: * Growing Australian Agriculture: reprioritising agriculture in the national agenda. Key actions required: a commitment to implement Blueprint priorities and to increase agriculture’s share of the federal budget. * Investing in RD&E: driving innovation and productivity through increased investment in agriculture RD&E. Key action required: increasing total expenditure on R&D by one percent (of total national expenditure on R&D) by 2015. * Increasing competitiveness and profitability: ensuring we are a globally competitive and our farmers remain profitable. Key actions required: reduction of red tape through harmonisation of state/federal regulations; ensuring fair competition through delivering the balance of market power; and driving investment in infrastructure needed by our farmers. * Building a stronger workforce: encouraging greater uptake of agricultural careers and delivering improved labour solutions. Key actions required: embedding agriculture into the national curriculum and improving flexibility to allow individual flexibility agreements to be completed pre-employment. * Balancing agriculture and the environment: ensuring our natural resources can continue to be managed while also increasing agricultural production. Key actions required: ensuring infrastructure and other efficiency measures are in place prior to any water purchases in the Murray-Darling Basin; and helping farmers to improve preparedness and response to extreme climactic events including an overhaul of drought support measures. “All sides of Government need to remember – the future of food, fibre and agriculture is dependent on policy decisions made today. These decisions are not just important for farmers but for the millions of Australians who eat, drink and wear what we grow every day.” The NFF’s 2013 Federal Election Policy Priorities and Scorecard can be found http://www.nff.org.au/read/3893/vote-agriculture.html[here].