Association forges national links

28 July 2023

On Friday 21 July 2023, TFGA had the pleasure of welcoming the National Farmers Federation to Launceston as part of their national roadshow events. This event was attended by a passionate group of farmers and industry representatives and provided the chance to have a conversation around issues impacting agriculture at both a national and Tasmanian level, including an overview of progress towards the NFF’s vision of a $100b sector by 2030.

The forum saw a range of issues discussed including biosecurity, farm welfare, the opportunities presented by digital technologies and the challenges posed by climate reporting and disclosures.

During discussions at the roadshow, I was constantly reminded of the value of the relationship between the TFGA and the NFF, and the impact we can have through positive contributions to the national agricultural advocacy discussion.

These efforts can be seen through the impact the TFGA has had on the national agenda through this coordinated advocacy model, with three examples standing out for me.

The first of these, which will be no surprise to anyone, is the impact of transmission lines on prime agricultural land and how our farmers are treated through the process.

There is now a national conversation about enforceable codes of conduct and the balance between infrastructure to support renewable energy and the need for sustainable food production. This has occurred in large part due to the concerted efforts of the TFGA to drive this as a critical issue across the country that required collective efforts to achieve positive change, and a clear line between our advocacy and the NFF having a seat at the table with Minister Bowen about how we strike this balance.

The second is the pivotal role the TFGA has continued to play in addressing the housing crisis faced by agricultural workers in Tasmania and nationwide. The lack of rural housing hinders industry growth and productivity.

The TFGA has sent letters to federal politicians for support in funding 30,000 regional homes in five years. Addressing the housing crisis and policy settings would safeguard millions in produce, create thousands of jobs, and benefit the wider community. Legislative change here is critical to fostering economic growth and we along with the NFF continue to make sure our member's voice is heard at the national level.

The other issue that jumps out at me is the impact of potential changes to vocational education for agriculture. Due to concerted efforts through the NFF, based on our member's experiences in Tasmania, there is hope that we may start seeing agriculture given the same recognition as a trade through vocational education at a national level, with the level of training provided being increased to a comparable level to that of a carpenter or electrician.

Given the diversity of skills needed on farms, from animal health, crop production, and machinery use to plumbing and fabrication skills, this recognition will be long overdue and will help provide our young farm workers with the training to thrive and positively contribute to the sector.

These outcomes can only be achieved through the combination of strong local and national advocacy efforts, which is why the partnership between the TFGA and NFF is so important to the future of our agricultural sector.