Is there too much regulation of agriculture in Australia? Well the crowd at Sydney Royal seemed to say yes, but the negative won the day.
Rural achievers finalists battled it out at the auditorium in the great debate and despite the negative saying regulations needed more clarity, admitting some fault, the judges decided they were the debate winners.
Leading the affirmative was Nicole Cowling from Maclean saying that the $15,000 load many farmers faced for certification was a huge impost on their business.
"Regulations can have a very big disproportionate impact on small business - which farms are," she said. "Where is the fairness? Regulations should be made much less onerous, Australian farmers deserve less regulation."
Lucy Collingridge, Armidale, for the negative, said regulations were needed to make sure consumers had confidence in products. "We need to make sure it is safe for the environment and safe for people, so we also have a healthy landscape to enjoy.
"We need regulation to make sure we keep our markets open to the world." Consumers wanted to know about the products they consumed. "The only way is certification." She said though that it was important such legislation was kept up to date for current circumstances.
Meg Austin, Broken Hill, said regulations were too onerous and farmers didn't have a say in them.
"Shouldn't we have the the ability to determine our own lives? Regulations only slow us down, slow down progress, we are all held down by red tape.
Shouldn't we have the the ability to determine our own lives?- Meg Austin, Broken Hill, NSW Rural Achievers finalist
"There is a real disconnection between policymakers and the paddock. Very few would ask, 'what's best for the farmer?' These rules should be written by farmers for farmers. Let's involve farmers in our decisions. More regulation is not the answer to a sustainable farming future."
Katy Armson-Graham, Padstow, said traceability was a gamechanger for many ag industries including for sheep.
It was important to have this to try and track any potential devastating diseases such as foot and mouth, that would decimate the industry if it got away. Regulation also helped open up new international markets, she said.
"We need to trace all food production, that is imperative."
Alister Meek, Hobbys Yard, said regulations were becoming more and more onerous every year. He quickly rattled off seven areas on a farm that farmers must be up to date with to keep in business. "This is unsustainable," he said.
He said the father of the wool industry John Macarthur would never have got started if he had to put up with all the modern regulations.
Jessica Fearnley, Bathurst, said the ability to track and trace products was important for consumers and made the future of agriculture secure, safe and exciting. "This is not stifling innovation," she said. "Regulation can be expensive but what price do you put on consumers' personal health? Is it worth the risk? I don't think so."
Carl Schubert, Dungog, asked where regulation will end. "We can't provide more land and these regulations are making it too dear to buy," he said.
Miranda McGufficke, Cooma, said regulations were good, but just needed more clarity.
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