SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Grain grower representatives met in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 14 to participate in the fourth Australian Grain Farmers’ Forum (AGFF) hosted by GrainGrowers. The aim of the forum was to review emerging grains issues and ensure the most appropriate mechanisms for response and action were identified.
The meeting was attended by grower and executive representatives from Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia – including NSW Farmers’ Association, South Australian Farmers’ Federation, WA Farmers – and on a national level, GrainGrowers.
The group discussed and reviewed the following items and provided actions as key issues for grain:
• Infrastructure: The group reviewed current road, rail and port infrastructure state policies and agreed that a national grains policy on road, rail and port infrastructure was necessary and a priority in line with several reviews currently being undertaken and the National Heavy Vehicle Scheme being implemented in 2013. In addition to this it was agreed that the production sector should work with the bulk handler companies to develop a whole of industry approach to long term infrastructure needs for the industry to discuss with Government. This will be taken forward as a priority.
• National Policy: The group discussed the currently proposed NFF Grains Policy Council and the transition of the AGFF to that forum as the national grains policy forum. The group endorsed the proposal and were keen to see the Council implemented.
• Port Access: The group were provided an update on the Code Development Committee on Port Access and what had been progressed to date.
• GRDC: The group discussed the current performance of GRDC and the value/return it was providing to growers. In line with the recent Minister Ludwig statement of RD&E and the National R&D Framework, AGFF felt that an independent review of GRDC’s performance, value and overall structure was required to ensure that the organisation was delivering maximum value to Australian grain producers.
• Risk Mitigation: The group discussed risk mitigation tools for growers and multi-peril risk insurance in light of drought reform. It was highlighted that this topic was a high priority for NFF and would be a key discussion item for the NFF Grains Policy Council.
• Property Rights: The Forum discussed the cross states issues with mining and coal seam gas and that there was the need for a strong national policy on behalf of grain producers and that water quality and benchmarking was a crucial aspect of this.
AGFF participants discussed how the forum had been a significant step forward for Australian grain producers around national policy review and development. Due to the NFF Grains Policy Council implementation it was determined that this meeting would be the last of the AGFF and that the forum would now transition to the NFF Grains Policy Council.