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Northern Rivers & Rural News

NSW Farmers releases 10-point Ag labour plan

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NSW Farmers releases 10-point Ag labour plan

NSW Farmers releases 10-point Ag labour plan

NSW Farmers is responding to the looming harvest worker shortage with a 10-point plan aimed at tackling the ongoing crisis.
International and state border restrictions have heavily limited the movement of workers to farms in time for upcoming grains, fruit and vegetable harvests, raising serious concerns that produce will be left to go to waste.

NSW Farmers’ President James Jackson said in the years prior to the onset of COVID-19 related border restrictions, up to half of the state’s harvest workforce was comprised of overseas workers.

“There have been longstanding challenges in attracting workers to agriculture, particularly domestic workers, however the pandemic has forced us to adapt very quickly to having fewer workers entering the state,” Mr Jackson said.
“We need short-term and long-term solutions. In the short-term, we need certainty and clarity for farm workers amid changing conditions of travel and border restrictions.”

“The Agricultural Workers’ Code is a great start, but we need to ensure the code is being interpreted consistently across states.”
“Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall has taken the step of inviting the Queensland, Victorian and Tasmanian Governments to establish an East Coast Agriculture Labour Task Force that will also include industry representatives. This is a good idea and let’s hope it goes ahead quickly and achieves improved mobility of workers across state borders.”

“We also need timely inflow of international seasonal workers through schemes including the Seasonal Worker Program and the Pacific Labour Scheme, as well as the impending Agriculture Workforce Visa.”

Mr Jackson said better coordination is needed to overcome the accommodation and transport challenges facing those interested in seasonal labour, especially in light of the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation.

“NSW Farmers is calling for an expansion of the ‘Help Harvest NSW’ program to include coordinators as the conduit between interested workers, farm businesses, government agencies and relevant stakeholders in the regions to streamline efforts for getting more people to farms.”
“Different regions face their own set of challenges, and we call on the government to provide grants to implement novel or localised initiatives to attract and/or facilitate the COVID safe movement and stay of seasonal workers.”

“An Agriculture Workforce Working Group comprising government agencies and industry stakeholders would greatly assist efforts to find timely and sustainable solutions to seasonal worker shortages in agriculture.”

Mr Jackson said seasonal work is highly suited to university or school students on break, and incentives such as subsidised transport, HECS relief or a bonus payment could attract more workers to agriculture.

“Attracting domestic workers to agriculture would also involve targeted communications campaigns highlighting the abundance of opportunities in agriculture, and NSW Farmers is calling for an industry wide coordinated campaign.”

 

Download the 10 Point Agricultural Workforce Plan PDF

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Farmers get their say on land use

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

Farmers get their say on land use

The fight between farmers and developers could be a thing of the past thanks to a new mapping project that will shape future regional planning decisions.

With agriculture, urban development, renewable energy infrastructure and other land use interests competing for space in our increasingly busy regional areas, NSW Farmers is urging landholders to have their say on State Significant Agricultural Land mapping.

NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin said it was an important process that would help protect farmers from conflicting land uses into the future.

“Farmers are being given a direct opportunity to have their say on the important issue of land use planning, and this could set the course for years to come as land use interests in regional areas grow,” Mr Martin said.

“Unfortunately, agricultural land can be viewed as a default zone when it comes to matters such as urban expansion, energy infrastructure and mining.

“There’s a finite amount of land suitable for agriculture and at the moment, we are losing it in a very fragmented way, but the state government’s mapping exercise is an opportunity to resolve that poor outcome.”

Mr Martin said the NSW Government’s understanding of the regional and state significance of agricultural areas would go a long way to minimising future conflict.

“The understanding of high value agricultural land must be multi-faceted, taking into consideration soil quality, yield, adaptability, proximity to export hubs and regional importance,” Mr Martin said.

“If the government is to identify and protect agricultural land on a tiered basis, then they need to understand what makes land strategically important – and farmers will be the repository of that knowledge.

“The goal of NSW Farmers advocacy in the land use space is to ensure agriculture is being considered in land use decisions. We need to start somewhere, and this mapping is the starting point.”

While the first iteration of the government’s mapping is not perfect, Mr Martin said consultation and refinement would help produce a planning tool that benefits landholders.

Consultation on the first State Significant Agricultural Land mapping is open until late January 2022 and the NSW Department of Primary Industries is welcoming input from farmers.

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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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