Registrations for the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) 2012 National Congress, to be held in Canberra on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 October, have opened today – with the potential for a global food and fibre boom to be the topic of hot debate. “Australian agriculture is standing at a crossroads – and it is up to us, as a sector, to decide what our future will be,” Mr Laurie said. “The challenge is this. The world population is growing rapidly, driving the need for increased food and fibre production, trade and market access and a solution to supply chain bottlenecks. “There is a great opportunity for Australian agriculture to play a role here, helping to feed and clothe the growing world population, capitalising on the growth of Asia, and growing our exports, both produce and knowledge. “Yet to do so, we must overcome some significant hurdles, including the need to increase production with fewer resources, improve farmer profitability and drive change in the perception of agriculture – all key issues raised by the agricultural supply chain as part of the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture. “The question that we will be asking at this year’s NFF National Congress is: how do we achieve this? The Congress, like Blueprint, is about taking the bull by the horns. We know we can overcome these hurdles; the challenge will be in making it happen. “As farmers know, Australian agriculture is incredibly innovative: it is estimated that in the last 40 years we have lost seven percent of our arable land, yet we’ve increased production by 220 percent. The question is not can we achieve growth, but how do we go about it? “The answer is in ensuring the Government makes sensible and strategic policy decisions that benefit agriculture and encourage growth – from a grassroots to a global level. “Importantly, the Congress will look at the key policies affecting Australian agriculture, farmers and the wider supply chain, everything from land and water access and availability to labour to research and development, from both a policy level and a practical, on-farm level. “It’s about ensuring farmers know what the policy decisions made in Canberra mean for their farm businesses,” Mr Laurie said. Registrations for the Congress are now open and all within the agricultural sector are invited to attend – with a special discounted rate for farmers who are members of NFF member bodies. The NFF 2012 National Congress will be held at the Australian Institute of Sport Arena Canberra on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 October. For more information or to register, visit the http://www.congress.nff.org.au[Congress website].