Ag sector is critical to nation's success

Ag sector is critical to nation's success

Opinion
The FFN believes the coalitions' success will be measured on their ability to deliver on promises made to the bush quickly.

The FFN believes the coalitions' success will be measured on their ability to deliver on promises made to the bush quickly.

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The FFN believes the coalitions' success will be measured on their ability to deliver on promises made to the bush quickly.

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In the shock of the year, the federal coalition has snagged another term of government, revealing the strength of the 'quiet majority' of voters who were seemingly overlooked by the deafening polls.

But what now?

The coalition has promised to tackle water, drought, land management, animal activist laws, dairy and live exports among other things.

However, their success will not be measured on these promises, but their ability to deliver and quickly, given the increasingly desperate situation the bush finds itself in.

Agriculture is re-emerging as a significant and valuable economic sector, critical to Australia's success on the global stage.

In 2016-17, agricultural production reached a record $62.8 billion, making it the largest contributor to national Gross Domestic Product growth and the fastest growing sector of all 19 industries.

As it goes, there is a high chance that the attention of decision-makers and financial institutions will turn towards servicing those in the agriculture industry, given there is money to be made and growth to be acquired.

Given the growing importance of agricultural production to the economy, any delay in the delivery of promises made to the sector presents a considerable risk to any government.

However, in order to capitalise on this renewed position of economic strength, the agricultural industry needs to engage in strategic, long-term planning and constructive communication with decision-makers.

This will ensure the future of agriculture looks the way we want it to.

We need to make clear, strategic and outcome-driven requests to leadership at every level (industry bodies, councils, local MPs, state and federal ministers) and stop bickering and finger-pointing between ourselves.

As an industry, our requests should be:

  • Outcome driven and specific: What exactly do you want, how much is it going to cost, when will it be delivered, is there co-investment?
  • Considerate of the risks: Who else is impacted? How would a change affect the state or nation at large?
  • Concise, well-thought out and explicit (who, what, when, where, why?)
  • Considerate of how the proposal fits in with the agricultural sector's vision at large?
  • Consistent: Governments want to deliver on requests made to them. However, industries that keep changing the end goal are difficult to satisfy.

This current drought presents an opportunity to position the agriculture industry for growth - to troubleshoot our issues from animal welfare to water efficiency, and to implement structural change and create a viable plan for the future.

Doing this will mean that when this drought ends, which it will, agriculture will not emerge on the back foot, but rather it will be more resilient, more dynamic and stronger than before.

- Written by the directors of the Future Farmers Network

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