It promises to be a busy 2017 for NSW Farmers...
It must be the year of telecommunications in the bush. As the ACCC investigates the merits of roaming, and as government considers its position on customer data service guarantees, we will be closely following the rollout of the NBN and the extent of mobile blackspot coverage.
There’s also the war on red tape for road access. We’re working with NSW Roads and Maritime Service and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to streamline access arrangements for farm vehicles. Pushing for a greater spend on infrastructure in rural areas is also important.
There must be effective implementation of native vegetation law reform and sufficient Local Land Services resourcing. Information on codes and biodiversity assessments remains outstanding, and it is crucial they are farmer-friendly before switch on in July.
With notification of the final round of offset projects due in April, this is the most important year so far for Murray Darling communities. Communities cannot withstand more productive water to be taken away. Environmental targets can and must be reached with offset projects.
There will be a review of the ACCC’s Horticulture Code of Conduct, ensuring growers have sufficient labour for harvest, while the best interests of farmers will be monitored in the NSW Biosecurity Bill regulations. Grains and agricultural chemicals will focus on improved competition policy and supply chain efficiency, working with GTA to develop grain standards and standardised contracts, and pursuing access to chemicals through government’s commitment to minor use chemicals.
We have a commitment from government for a farm trespass policy and we want to see this achieved this year. Competition within the dairy industry is another key issue, following the ACCC’s recent inquiry. NSW Farmers is also focusing on securing funding for free Q fever testing and vaccination.
This story first appeared on Harden Murrumburrah Express and in The Land.