After four years as NSW Farmers President, James Jackson has stepped down from the role. Here, in his last column for The Land, he reflects on what ended up being a unique period for agriculture in the state.
It is interesting to reflect on four years as president of NSW Farmers. Of course, it would be remiss to not mention the drought, floods, fires, and plagues - all biblical in scale. These challenges have been catastrophic, but in a strange way they have opened opportunities for our organisation to put agriculture in the spotlight.
Agriculture and food supplies have been all over the news, which has helped build some of our core policies into the nation's narrative. Have we done this well on my watch? I hope so.
NSW Farmers was instrumental in getting NSW to be the first state to introduce right to farm legislation. That is something I am proud of. We now have offences and penalties in place for activists and trespassers that have caused so much stress for farm businesses.
Our advocacy and media campaigns resulted in mouse plague support funding, an increase in coastal harvestable rights, breakthroughs on competition policy, and practical government drought assistance funding. We also helped put biosecurity front and centre, which is proving prophetic now.
I came to the job promising to reconnect the organisation to its roots. To empower and encourage the 'many champions' model.
I have always been keen on the democracy that NSW Farmers has created. I have lost my share of propositions on the floor of NSW Farmers forums, but that rigour makes you listen to your opponents. And maybe, just maybe, they have a point. If you can't get your colleagues excited and over the line on a proposition, then it probably needs some work.
Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of an important 'broad church' of an organisation that really does have true value for farmers of all shapes and sizes.
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