National Farmers' Federation

Inadequate infrastructure putting brakes on agriculture’s potential

High transport costs stemming from inadequate road and rail infrastructure stand to place increasing pressure on the agricultural supply chain and will stifle growth across the sector.
Releasing its Transport Infrastructure Policy Discussion Paper today, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) said this finding clearly echoed what had been continually presented to governments of all political ilks for years, but had not received sufficient prioritisation or investment.
The Paper also again strongly reiterated the need for the fast-tracking of the construction of the Inland Rail to provide an efficient pathway for the transportation of agricultural products.
NFF Vice President, and Chair of the organisation’s Infrastructure Taskforce, Fiona Simson, said with unprecedented opportunity for the sale of premium quality Australian food and fibre across the globe now was the time for government to act.
“The agriculture industry has, for a very long time, been hindered by a lack of transport infrastructure, and poor quality roads and rail services, which has substantially inflated the cost of doing business,” Ms Simson said.
“For example, supply chain costs routinely comprise 30 per cent of the cost of production and, in some individual cases, amount to as much as 48.5 per cent – this is clearly not sustainable and is stifling to an industry with such potential for growth.
“The Policy Discussion Paper has also confirmed that there is very little supply chain modelling of agricultural goods in the cost-benefit analyses of the government agencies which determine which roads and rails should be built.
“The CSIRO’s agricultural supply chain modelling tool TRANSIT shows that improved investment in rural roads could deliver a 24 per cent transport saving and this is indicative of the saving potential for all agricultural commodities.”
“We need more investment and we need our government to be much more strategic about how to best direct funds.
“In terms of the Inland Rail, there’s been enough rhetoric – it’s time to stop the talk and build it.”
Ms Simson called on the political parties to outline a clear and strategic investment plan for regional transport infrastructure ahead of the Federal Election on 2 July.
“Australia is renowned for producing the best food and fibre in the world, but we must have efficient and robust transport channels in place for us to be competitive in the global market place,” she said.
“It is imperative that we are innovative in how we fund infrastructure and need to explore how new financing models may work in rural settings.
“Agriculture is poised to be Australia’s next $100 billion industry – we have the know how, we have the people and we have the global reputation to further increase our already sizeable contribution to the national economy.
“This needs to be recognised and adequate infrastructure put in place to help the sector, and rural and regional Australians, to thrive.”

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