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Rural News

NSW CALLS FOR EAST COAST AGRICULTURE LABOUR TASK FORCE TO BE ESTABLISHED

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NSW CALLS FOR EAST COAST AGRICULTURE LABOUR TASK FORCE TO BE ESTABLISHED

NSW CALLS FOR EAST COAST AGRICULTURE LABOUR TASK FORCE TO BE ESTABLISHED

As NSW and Australian agricultural sectors grapple with critical labour shortages, ahead of a predicted record harvest season, Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall has called for an overhaul of the country’s approach to seasonal work.
Mr Marshall declared his intent to work closely with the Queensland, Victorian and Tasmanian Governments to establish an East Coast Agriculture Labour Task Force.
“The NSW Government is committed to stronger primary industries, a sector which is key to the food security of Australia and beyond, but the issues impacting labour availability need to be tackled now,” Mr Marshall said.
“Unfortunately, it is now at the stage where the states have to lead the response. I will work closely with my counterparts in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania to convene a cross-jurisdiction between officials, agricultural departments and industry bodies.
“I am confident my fellow Ministers will see the benefits of this alliance and we will be able to sit down within weeks to progress initiatives quickly to strengthen our primary industries sector.”
The Task Force would:

  • Identify opportunities to provide flexibility in the Commonwealth Pacific Mobility Programs to access workers and their movements within and across jurisdictions,
  • Develop local initiatives and solutions to mobilise labour and equipment,
  • Identify innovative tools, technology, processes, and machinery that will automate systems to reduce the reliance on temporary labour,
  • Identify skills, education and training gaps that will support industry into the future,
  • Develop a roadmap to address structural and reputational issues in the sector,
  • Develop a communication strategy to promote jobs and careers in agriculture, and
  • Advocate on behalf of the east coast states on issues of national importance.

“NSW has already led the way with support through the pandemic, including pioneering the Ag Workers’ Code, aiding the arrival of more than 2,000 foreign workers and subsidising their hotel quarantine costs to the tune of $3 million,” Mr Marshall said.

News and Reviews

Fear factor in fresh food supply

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Fear factor in fresh food supply

Fear factor in fresh food supply

A government report has revealed farmers are afraid to speak out on their dealings with the major supermarkets because of a “fear of retribution”.

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee Chair Colin Thompson said the disappointing findings from the inaugural Food and Grocery Code review vindicated the efforts to secure fairness in fresh food supply chains.

“The majority of pay rise negotiations were fruitless for farmers in 2021 and almost a third of major supermarket suppliers cited ‘fear of retribution’ as a reason for not raising issues under the Code,” Mr Thompson said.

“Something is clearly wrong when people are afraid of having their say, and it’s clear that many farmers won’t raise concerns or ask for improved pay arrangements because of how powerful these supermarkets are.”

While Mr Thompson commended Coles and Woolworths for complying with the Code’s voluntary reporting regime, he said there was clear room for improvement in fresh food supply arrangements.

“The perishability of their produce basically means farmers are price-takers and are in a vulnerable position in their supply chains,” Mr Thompson said.

“This dynamic can give rise to abuse of power by bigger players, such as wholesalers and retailers.

“However, we do need to recognise there was some positive feedback, particularly for Aldi.”

Mr Thompson said NSW Farmers had been pushing for change in this space and had a key breakthrough with the Perishable Agricultural Goods (PAG) inquiry and its subsequent findings in late 2020.

“NSW Farmers has advocated for intervention to make supply chains such as dairy, horticulture and poultry meat more equitable – essentially so that farmers can receive the pay they deserve for their produce,” Mr Thompson said.

“Our advocacy led to a Treasury-led ACCC inquiry, which confirmed power dynamics are likely to favour wholesalers, processors and retailers, and the ACCC made a suite of recommendations to help remedy this situation.

“We need firm commitments for legislative reforms to protect farmers from unfair trading practices.”

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Northern NSW farmers to have their say on climate, regional opportunities

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The Northern Rivers own newspaper

Northern NSW farmers to have their say on climate, regional opportunities

Friday, 10 December 2021. From Taree to Lismore, Northern NSW farmers can have their say on what Australia’s climate policy should look like at one of Farmers for Climate Action’s end-of-year catch-ups next week.

The seven networking events, created by farmers for farmers passionate about a better climate future, are an opportunity to be updated on Australia’s climate policy, share local insights and learnings from the year, and ensure we’re feeding the right climate solutions back to industry and decision-makers.

The 1.5-hour sessions will run from Monday 13 December to Wednesday 15 December in the following locations:

Taree: Monday 13 December from 6.30pm at the Caravilla Motor Inn Bistro
Port Macquarie: Tuesday 14 December from 9am at Hibbard Sports Club
Dorrigo: Tuesday 14 December from 1.30pm at the Food Angel Cafe
Bellingen: Tuesday 14 December from 630pm at Bellingen Riverside Cottages
Grafton: Wednesday 15 Dec from 9.30am at Vines at 139
Kyogle: Wednesday 15 December from 2pm at Sugarbowl Cafe
Lismore: Wednesday 15 December from 6.30pm at the Lismore Workers Club mezzanine

Peter Holding, third-generation Harden farmer and FCA community outreach officer said:

“Here’s your opportunity to meet like-minded farmers and compare notes on the year we’ve had. We can have a frank discussion about where Australia’s climate policy is at and, more importantly, what this means for our region and livelihoods.

“Farmers are on the front lines of climate change, with many of us in this region living through droughts, floods, bushfires and more.

“Strong climate policy creates a raft of opportunities for regional Australia and we want Northern NSW farmers to be central to the conversation to ensure we get the best opportunities for the region.”

The events will be free of charge. RSVPs are essential and refreshments will be provided. To register visit www.farmersforclimateaction.org.au/events.

Farmers for Climate Action is a movement of almost 7000 farmers and agricultural leaders working to ensure that farmers, who are on the frontlines of climate change, are part of its solution.

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

NEW GENE TECHNOLOGIES TO DOUBLE FARM PRODUCTIVITY

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Minister Marshall - Advanced Gene Technology Centre
Minister Marshall - Advanced Gene Technology Centre

NEW GENE TECHNOLOGIES TO DOUBLE FARM PRODUCTIVITY

The State’s primary producers will be amongst the first in the world to benefit from cutting-edge advances in genetic technologies with the completion of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Advanced Gene Technology Centre.

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall officially opened the Centre today and said the NSW Government had provided $4.1 million in funding for the project at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute.

“Plants and livestock will be more resilient to the challenges of drought, frost and salinity, as well as more resistant to pests and disease thanks to the research coming out of our new Advanced Gene Technology Centre,” Mr Marshall said.

“By building advanced infrastructure, we equip our scientists with the capabilities to be at the forefront of scientific advancements, including fast-tracking new opportunities to selectively alter genes and pathways.

“Over the next 20 years, we expect the rates of genetic gain in NSW to more than double.

“Advanced genetic technologies, including synthetic biology, gene editing, environmental DNA, and rapid complete genome sequencing and analysis, are all key sciences likely to transform the productivity and biosecurity of our primary industries.

“Investments in projects such as the Advanced Gene Technology Centre cement NSW as a world leader in agricultural, biosecurity and fisheries research.”
Mr Marshall said the funding was part of the NSW Government’s $100 million package invested into research infrastructure to support world-class food and fibre production.
“The NSW Government will continue to invest in the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute and the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute to build laboratory and grow-out facilities,” Mr Marshall said.

The investment in the State’s research and development portfolio is part of the NSW Government’s $240 million Bushfire Restart funding.

More information on the NSW Government’s World-Class Food and Fibre Program is available on the NSW DPI website.

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