As a big year for Australian agriculture draws to a close, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) sees strong promise for Australian farmers across the country in 2015. The NFF’s submission to the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper process lodged this week sets out a range of short and longer term priorities for Government to propel the sector forward over the coming years. “As we’ve seen over the past twelve months, there are new and exciting opportunities opening up. The need for agriculture to take priority on the national agenda is now more important than ever,” NFF President Brent Finlay said. “The White Paper will set the policy agenda for agriculture for potentially the next 20 years. Its importance to the sector has been reflected in the more than 700 submissions made to Government. As we reach the final stages of the process, the onus is on Government to deliver solid and sustainable policy initiatives, to drive farm profitability and competitiveness right through the supply chain. “Going forward, we must continue to build on this year’s impressive progress in trade deals with Japan, Korea and China – by driving agreement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and making a bilateral agreement with Indonesia a priority. “The low Australian dollar, combined with recent FTAs, creates the potential for trade-exposed agriculture to be a serious wealth-creating sector for the Australian economy. “To translate this into reality, investment and reform is required to bring costs down and boost margins at the farm gate, through efficient movement of our products from paddock to plate; from field to fibre. “We need to upgrade our east coast rail network, reform our ports and shipping regulation, and comprehensively map bottlenecks in our road-based supply chains. “Further across the supply chain, the power imbalance between retailers and producers must be addressed to give farmers a fairer share. While on farm, we need to maintain and build on our competitive advantages – our soils, water and climate, our world-class biosecurity and food safety systems, and our research and development. “We know that some of the initiatives and reforms proposed by the NFF will not be achieved overnight. But we also know that all the reforms the NFF propose are achievable. Government can embark on important long term reforms to boost competitiveness, while acting on immediate measures to make farming in Australia even more rewarding. “As we look towards 2015, the NFF will continue to be the voice for Australian farmers – putting agriculture at the forefront of policy initiatives to drive the sector and economy forward,” Mr Finlay said. A copy of the NFF Submission in response to the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper is available http://www.nff.org.au/get/submissions/4837.pdf[here].