National Farmers Federation Leaders call for action on competition, energy and infrastructure

29 November 2022


Farm sector leaders call for action on competition, energy and infrastructure at national meeting

National representatives of Australia’s agriculture sector, meeting in Canberra today, have called on the Federal Government to respond to a number of issues impacting farmers.

The National Farmers’ Federation membership came together to discuss several critical issues impacting the sector, noting the number of pressing issues confronting the sector continued to grow, placing pressure on family farms and the food supply chain.

NFF President Fiona Simson said the meeting highlighted the eagerness of members to see progress on several fronts.

“We’ve heard from members that ongoing extreme weather events, spiralling costs, supply chain issues and the labour crisis are all simultaneously front of mind for producers,” Ms Simson said.

“These factors threaten to place further pressure on our food supply chains as we get closer to Christmas and into next year. We need to continue working in partnership with all governments to enact smart policies that sure-up our supply chains.”

The NFF membership passed new and updated policies on several of these critical issues.

Farmers ready to work with government on the path to flood recovery

Farmers are looking to the Federal Government to partner with the sector as it recovers from damaging rain and flooding in many farming areas.

“We’ve welcomed the announcement of additional support by the Federal Government which will be invaluable to those farmers and communities as they rebuild,” Ms Simson said.

“But we know the job of rebuilding the road and rail infrastructure to reconnect our farms to our customers will take months, years and many billions of dollars.

“The Government needs to be here with us for the long haul. That’s certainly the message we’ve been given and it will be important this continues to be backed up with funding.

“We can’t just be lumped with decimated roads once the water recedes and the news cameras leave town.”

Farmers call for stronger competition laws to prevent unfair practices

Sector leaders have endorsed a call for tougher competition laws to protect family farmers.

“Too often we see farmers treated poorly when they go to sell their products to supply chain behemoths.

“The Federal Government has already shown its commitment to resolving this through new penalties and the expansion of unfair contract laws.

“Now, we need to go further – exploring mandatory codes of conduct for farm commodities facing significant power imbalances, strengthening merger laws, and bolstering oversight and enforcement by regulators.”

The call from the NFF follows similar comments by former ACCC Chair Rod Sims at an event in Canberra this week.

Mr Sims also called for a strengthening of merger laws, as well as new laws to tackle potential misuse of market power, acknowledging that farmers were “often on the receiving end of businesses with too much market power, either upstream or downstream of them”.

Farmers demand enforceable code for energy infrastructure

Also endorsed at the meeting was a call for the Commonwealth to implement an enforceable code to manage land use conflict between energy companies and landholders.

“The Government’s Rewiring the Nation policy – while needed to modernise and decarbonise our grid – will come at a massive cost to farmland.

“Recent experience of the approach by energy companies leaves a lot to be desired. We need mechanisms to give farmers a stronger voice in the process, and to assess and avoid productivity impacts.

“We have to maintain the balance between our climate obligations, and our obligation to feed and clothe people here and around the world,” Ms Simson said.

New representatives join NFF’s ranks

The NFF held elections at its annual AGM for several positions on its Board and policy committees.

The following Board Directors were successfully elected:

  • Ms Lisa Minogue, NSW farmer (re-elected)
  • Mr David Connolly, NT producer

The NFF also welcomed Ms Natalie Sommerville, a farmer from South Australia, who will join the board as an independent director.

Ms Bron Christensen has elected to chair the NFF’s Economics and Farm Business Committee. Bron joins the following committee chairs who were appointed for a 1 year term:

Farming Systems Committee
Mr Chris Groves

Sustainable Development and Climate Change Committee
Mr Angus Atkinson

Farming Systems Committee
Mr Chris Groves

Sustainable Development and Climate Change Committee
Mr Angus Atkinson

Farming Systems Committee
Mr Chris Groves

Sustainable Development and Climate Change Committee
Mr Angus Atkinson