The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today announced Coles as the principal sponsor of the NFF 2012 National Congress, taking place in Canberra on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 October. NFF President Jock Laurie said Coles’ involvement in the Congress allows a strong focus on the links between producer and consumer. “Now more than ever, it is vital that we improve the flow of information between those that produce our food and fibre and those who enjoy them every day,” Mr Laurie said. “One of the strongest lessons our sector has learnt over the last twelve months is the need to better understand, respond to, and engage with our consumers and the general public. “The need to build consumer understanding and trust around agriculture is evident, but so to is the need for farmers and the agricultural supply chain to better understand the environment in which we operate. “So, with Coles on board as our principal sponsor, a big focus of this year’s Congress will be on understanding the consumer; finding out what drives them, what their purchasing habits are; what their expectations are for farmers – and conversely, how we can help consumers understand the impact of their decisions and behaviour on our farmers,” Mr Laurie said. Mr Laurie also said that Congress provides an opportunity for farmers to talk to Coles about their expectations regarding supermarket power and purchasing behaviour. “One of the biggest issues raised by many of our farmers is the power of the major supermarkets. While there is no doubt that the supermarkets provide significant market opportunity for our farmers, many are asking the question: at what price to their bottom line?” Mr Laurie said. “There’s a huge amount of heat in the supermarket debate right now, and lots of anger from Australian farmers. But rather than hide from this, Coles has chosen to step up and face it by becoming the Congress’ principal sponsor. “We welcome Coles’ involvement and encourage farmers to come along and have their say. We trust this will be a positive step in the right directions as we look to solutions to ensure all parts of the value chain have the opportunity to be profitable over the long term,” Mr Laurie said. The NFF 2012 National Congress is taking place on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 October at the AIS Arena, Canberra. For more information or to register, visit: www.congress.nff.org.au.