Farm gate target will require unity, NFF CEO says

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National Farmers Federation CEO Tony Mahar has called for the industry to keep working together to meet a target of $100 billion farm gate value by 2030

Mahar spoke at the Tractor and Machinery Association’s annual conference, held last month in Melbourne, and said while the growth target was on track, it would require the agricultural sector to work collectively as the National Farmers Federation (NFF) alone could not create the increase.

Launched by the NFF in 2018, Mahar reiterated the purpose of the plan – which is reported on annually – was to give the industry a collective goal.

"The objective was to give a light on the hill for all of the industry and all of the relevant stakeholders, whether they be government, retailers, universities, CSIRO to say ‘that’s our goal for the industry’," he said.

"Let’s increase their farm gate value to $100 billion by 2030, and when we started it we were at $58 to $60 billion dollars farm gate value.

"Here we are in 2022 at around $80 billion, so we’ve seen a $20 billion dollar increase in the farm gate value in four years.

"It’s easy to have an aspiration and easy to put something out there, but the really good thing is that successive governments, universities, banks, the TMA – everybody that’s got an interest in agriculture – is strapped on to this aspiration.

"That’s fantastic because, when we set it, we knew that it wasn’t going to be completed or achieved by me, by our organisation, by the Department of Agriculture – it’s going to be a combined effort."

The goal is in place to achieve a farm gate value of $100 billion by 2030

Mahar said successive good seasons had helped to boost overall farm gate values, however any drought between now and 2030 would pose a major challenge.

He also spoke about the "tailwinds and headwinds" that were influencing the roadmap’s progress.

Mahar cited La Niña weather events, strong commodity prices, land values, digital connectivity and environmental markets as being the tailwinds which had helped boost the overall farm gate value.

Conversely, labour shortages, input prices and supply, biosecurity, trade uncertainty and environmental regulations were seen as being the headwinds that could cause issues.

In particular, Mahar cited foot-and-mouth and other diseases as a major concern that could potentially derail the plans.

"Biosecurity is something that absolutely underpins everything we do," he said.

"I don’t think I’m overstating it that our industry, this country, is under siege from pests and disease.

"There would be a three-day standstill of all stock in this country if foot-and-mouth disease was found on a goat outside Perth airport.

"You can imagine what that does for supermarket supply chains – we’ve all faced shortages on supermarket shelves.

"This is not something that we want in this country and we absolutely have to do everything we can to make sure that it doesn’t get in."

Mahar called for biosecurity levies to be introduced to ensure there was a constant source of money to tackle issues when they appeared.

"We’ve got to have a sustainable source of funding that is non-negotiable – so every passenger that comes in gets charged $5 and that goes to biosecurity.

"Every container gets charged $20 and that goes to biosecurity funding, so we’ve got a bucket of money when and if we get a disease that we can dig into and throw at a problem rather than getting $40 million or $50 million every budget."

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