National Farmers' Federation

National farmer survey reveals angst over government agenda

  • 1,600 farmers from across Australia have had their say in the first National Farmer Priorities Survey.
  • Industry sentiment is deteriorating with 1 in 3 farmers less positive about the future of farming than they were 12 months ago.
  • Farmers are worried about a wide range of policy pressures, with market fairness, environment laws and infrastructure funding topping the list.
  • A majority of farmers think the Federal Government’s policies are harming the industry.

Market fairness, environment laws and the state of rural roads have topped the list of concerns in the first National Farmer Priorities Survey conducted by the National Farmers’ Federation in partnership with Seftons.

The survey of more than 1,600 farmers also confirmed falling confidence within the sector, and revealed reservations about the approach of the Albanese Government.

NFF President Fiona Simson said the results should prompt a conversation within government about how it can support the sector’s growth as seasonal and market conditions deteriorate.

“What we’ve heard through this survey is that farmers are feeling frustrated. They’re being squeezed by a lack of government support on a wide range of fronts – whether that’s the unchecked market power of supply chain players, crumbling rural roads, unnecessary green tape, workplace laws… the list goes on.

“We’re watching commodity markets fall and seasons dry out. We can’t control the weather, it’s part and parcel of farming. But the policy environment is something the government can control.

The survey found that a majority of farmers (54.3 per cent) thought the Federal Government’s policies were harming the industry, and only 31.2 per cent thought they were doing a good job for farmers.

“This isn’t a stellar report card for the Albanese Government. They need to listen to people on the land and they need to act, because farmers are losing faith.

“Looming policy failures like shutting down the live sheep export trade or shutting down farms in the Murray Darling Basin send a damning message about the government’s priorities. Farmers are getting that message loud and clear,” Ms Simson said.

Managing Director of Seftons, farmer and report co-author Robbie Sefton AM said she hoped the results of the survey could inform smarter policymaking that recognises the value and contribution of Aussie farmers.

“Australia’s farmers are the best at what they do. They produce incredible products under exceptional circumstances, and they do it with remarkable positivity and resilience,” Ms Sefton explained.

“We need to make sure they’re part of the conversation when decisions that impact their livelihoods are being made.”

The survey found that despite the concerns held by respondents, farmers (70.7 per cent) continued to love what they do for a living, and a similar number (67.5 per cent) described their local community as a great place to live.

“There is no better and more meaningful lot in life than to produce food and fibre for a living and form part of a farming community,” Ms Sefton AM said.

“What we want to do is ensure government hears the emerging concerns of our food and fibre producers and acts to secure a prosperous future for them and their communities,” Ms Simson concluded.

To view the full National Farmer Priorities Survey report, click here.