Farmers are urging the Australian Government not to sign an impending trade deal with the European Union unless major improvements are put on the table for Aussie farmers.
Preliminary negotiations are underway in Brussels this week ahead of a meeting on the sidelines of the G7 Trade Ministers’ meeting in Osaka next week.
NFF President Fiona Simson said farmers were fearful of being sold out at the 11th hour.
“We have grave concerns that Minister Farrell is headed to Osaka with his signing pen at the ready.
“We’re yet to hear any indication that the EU is willing to put a commercially meaningful deal on the table.
“Everything we’ve seen so far would actually send parts of our sector backwards. We’ve never seen a proposed trade deal like it.”
Farmers urged the Trade Minister to exercise patience and restraint, given the long term impacts of the deal.
“The message from Australian farmers is clear and united: if it’s a dud deal, keep the signing pen in your pocket.
“A photo op at the signing table lasts five minutes, but a dud deal will dictate our fortunes for a generation.”
Farmers have warned that recent proposals would put them at a disadvantage to commercial competitors like Canada, New Zealand and South America.
“The current proposal would lock Aussie farmers in at a disadvantage for the next half century.
“We want to see a good deal for everyone. But currently, we’re being asked to sit at the table and watch the EU have its cake and eat it too.”
The NFF urged the Government not to be bullied into an EU-driven timeline for concluding a deal.
“We’re grateful to the Minister and officials who have been working hard on these negotiations.
“We appreciate their work, but we don’t want to agree a deal just because we’ve worked hard on it, or because the EU throws its weight around.
“There’s no rush. We should only agree a deal if it’s the right deal,” Ms Simson concluded.