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The AgForce Cattle Board has set their priorities for 2020-2021 based on the challenges faced in 2019, the Cattle Board’s involvement with the Red Meat 2030 Strategy, and member and stakeholder feedback. These priorities are not set in stone. The Cattle Board will constantly engage with members and others for feedback and suggestions. This priority setting is very important as results need to make a difference to the future of our cattle businesses.
In 2020-2021 we will focus on:
- Limiting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on members, their families, and their livelihoods
- National review of the red meat industry’s structure, responsibilities, governance, funding, and levy payer engagement
- Biosecurity – cattle ticks and lay pregnancy testing, and issues like traceability
- Market Access – live export and trade equivalency, specifically within the Australia/EU negotiations
- Advancing economic resilience/on-farm profitability for beef producers in Queensland, including Natural Capital
- AgForce membership growth
- Communication with members and within the broader industry (between leadership and grassroots) and communication with community, customers, and consumers
- Advancing sustainable beef production in Queensland, including animal welfare
- Crisis management – natural disasters, animal diseases, emergency response
- Improving the level of extension and streamlining the research & development agenda for beef producers in Queensland
At a time when the opportunity exists to diversify into or continue with small livestock enterprises, the AgForce Sheep & Wool Board are encouraging new entrants and lobbying governments and industry by:
- Limiting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on members, their families, and their livelihoods
- Producing a “Blueprint for the Queensland Sheep Industry” to outline realistic and achievable targets for our industry, and providing a clear approach to achieving them
- Contributing to the development of both the red meat and wool industry 10-year strategic plans
- Contributing to policy development and advocacy efforts through the peak industry bodies of WoolProducers Australia, Sheep Producers Australia, and the Goat Industry Council of Australia
- Strongly encouraging the use of pain relief for mulesing as best practice, demonstrating a desire to improve animal welfare outcomes, and incorporating more education and awareness initiatives to ensure producers accurately complete the National Wool Declaration
- Advocating for continued financial assistance from government for control of wild dogs.
The Sheep & Wool Board maintain active engagement and involvement with the industry’s national peak bodies, with a representative on WoolProducers Australia’s Board and ‘Health and Welfare’ Committee, and representatives on Sheep Producers Australia’s four policy committees of ‘Marketing, Market Access and Trade’, ‘Product Integrity’, ‘Health and Welfare’ and ‘Research, Development and Adoption’.
AgForce Grains has five key priority areas for 2019-2020, including stamp duty removal from multi-peril crop insurance, supply of reliable and affordable farm inputs, transport and supply chain costs, high value agriculture, and water infrastructure investment.
Grain Harvest Management Scheme (GHMS)
With a review underway with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), AgForce will be working to ensure that the GHMS remains in place in Queensland to provide grain producers with the flexibility they need to cart their grain. This well-functioning scheme is a great collaboration between industry and government and is vital to Queensland’s grains sector.
Availability of inputs
Availability of farm inputs remains a priority for AgForce. With droughts, floods, bushfires and global pandemics, we need to ensure our members can access what they need to produce world class food and fibre. AgForce is working with the National Farmers Federation and other peak bodies on improving the structures so that we are not left short. Without things like fuel, fertiliser, seed, and chemicals, agriculture cannot continue.
AgForce has developed a comprehensive policy platform for the October 2020 State Election. As part of AgForce’s Stand Up For Regional Queensland campaign, we will focus on growing understanding of broadacre producers and their communities amongst political parties and candidates. As we head into four-year fixed Parliamentary terms, we will seek a broad commitment of support to advance the wellbeing of farming families, achieve sustainable and profitable farming enterprises, and secure the liveability and prosperity of our rural communities and the state.
AgForce continues to assist with promoting northern development, especially through the AgForce Grains Board’s efforts to establish a northern cropping sector. AgForce is working with the Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australian on a project to de-risk broadacre cropping options in northern Queensland along with QAAFI/UQ, Radicle Seeds Australia, Northern Gulf Resource Management Group, and Elders. This project proposes a participatory on-farm program with growers driving the RD&E activities to identify best crop and management options and bridge gaps between present and potential yields. The research undertaken will assist building farmers’ skills and identifying high profit and low risk options in broadacre cropping by trialling sorghum, maize, and forage crops.
AgForce will continue to strengthen access to water by working with the Federal and Queensland Governments to improve GAB sustainability program structuring for bore owners to facilitate their completion of all remaining capping and piping work. Our Water Committee will also seek to guide the development and implementation of the State’s water metering and measuring project to ensure water user privacy, and that practical science and risk-based settings are used. New water infrastructure across the State for both urban and agriculture needs, including further sustainable development of northern Queensland, is also a focus.
AgForce continues to promote policies that strengthen and build farm businesses. We will be focussing on:
- DRAS scheme calling for the continuation of the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme, and working to secure certainty on future State Government drought assistance measures and declaration methods, after the Burke and Wade review recommendations are implemented
- Maintaining our strong involvement in and representation of members on State Government drought working groups and industry reform round tables
- Advocating the Federal Government for regional stimulus for farm businesses and communities affected by drought
- Ensuring Queensland agricultural businesses can continue to operate and thrive through the COVID-19 event and emerge in a position to lead Australia’s recovery. Enabling movement of inputs, produce, and human resources, both across State borders and throughout the State.
- Continuing to advocate for amendments to the QRIDA and RIC processes in order enable better access to assistance for members
- Having ongoing input into the federal Future Drought Fund design and implementation.
Farmers are the best environmental stewards. AgForce will continue the quest to demonstrate environmental outcomes along with productive landscapes can be achieved without prescriptive, mandatory Reef regulations. AgForce does not support regulations that require a licence to farm. This year, we are working closely with AgForce’s Stand Up for Regional Queensland campaign and other advocacy groups to achieve best outcomes for agribusinesses across the Reef catchments, whilst still caring for our regional communities and the Reef.
- Influence a reset in Queensland’s vegetation management regulatory framework through communication of Landscape Management Policies to all political parties in the lead up to the State election in October 2020.
- Increase and broaden income streams for landholders by further developing a Natural Capital approach within agriculture, which enables payment to landholders for ecosystem services that benefit humanity and the reduction in risk in rural finance for properties with good or improving natural capital condition.
- Test and develop the Carbon Certification for Landscape Resilience (CCLR) methodology at the property level as a landholder developed mechanism that enables farmers to measure and prove natural capital condition improvement to investors.
- Support the establishment of market options for CCLR, including advocating reforms that enable consumers to support and develop ownership natural capital condition through paying a small premium for CCLR food and fibre products.
- Continue with establishing a more balanced legal framework for vegetation management that ensures regulations are simple and clear, while recognising property rights and rewarding landholders for good practice.
- Continue advocacy for the establishment of a Rangelands Consultative Council that improves political, policy, and scientific representation of landholder interests within the Queensland Parliament and Government.
- Communicate the land use protection principles that have been endorsed by the AgForce Board to major stakeholder groups involved in competing land uses for broadacre agriculture. Key to this is that “There are no negative impacts on existing or future sustainable agricultural opportunities.”
- Represent the interests of AgForce members in negotiation with the resource sector about issues such as land access and compensation through the finalisation of a standard template for Conduct and Compensation Agreements, active liaison with the Queensland Gas Fields Commission.
- Represent the interests of AgForce members in ensuring resource sector proponents comply with the requirements of their environmental authority or tenement conditions, within different phases of resource projects, including before establishing activities, during mining operations, and after project surrender.
- Continue to respond to emergent AgForce member needs regarding land use protection.
In the next year, Queensland and AgForce members will face the biggest shakeup in native title law since Wik, as indigenous groups seek compensation from the State for historical tenure actions. As the State of Queensland grapples with what we understand is a multi-million dollar liability following the landmark Timber Creek decision made in 2019, AgForce is working to ensure that Queensland producers don’t foot the bill for these historical actions as we see more compensation claims lodged in the Federal Court.
Through your valued AgForce membership, you know that AgForce will continue to:
- Provide industry input into biosecurity and agvet chemical legislation, regulations and strategies
- Respond to emerging industry needs or gaps for coordinated biosecurity management, best practice, extension and lobbying
- Contribute to effective biosecurity policy development and respond to biosecurity issues affecting agribusiness.
This year, the AgForce Connectivity and Social Policy Committee is keen to work with like-minded organisations to tackle not only the connectivity issues in the bush, but also some of the social ones. We know why living in the bush is so rewarding, yet many of our rural towns are struggling. We are looking at how we can collaborate with key rurally focused groups to undertake a range of surveys to help piece together why people live where they live and how we can make the bush more attractive.
AgForce will keep advocating for better telecommunications services in the bush as a means towards better community outcomes. We will also look to become closely involved in designing the Digital Tech Hub, including knowledge sharing technical support positions in regional Queensland. AgForce will also work to see:
- increased investment in infrastructure
- improved consumer protections including no changes to the Universal Service Guarantee until there are fit-for-purpose alternative voice options for those on the Sky Muster satellite service
- Increased data and more equitable meterage
- Implementation of round 5 and 6 of the Mobile Black Spot Program.
In 2021, AgForce will continue to advocate for unlocking key strategic trade routes through further infrastructure investment and maintenance that links road, rail and port. This includes advocating for further funding to Queensland’s priority roads and bridges and promoting the role of infrastructure projects as a crucial part of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will also continue to advocate for the reduction and improvement of regulation associated with the transport industry, including improved access to the network. This will involve continuing engagement with the ongoing Heavy Vehicle National Law Review. AgForce will seek to be involved in the freight task discussion and continue to work collaboratively with agencies and other stakeholders to ensure primary producer’s needs are met.
We will also continue to engage with the Federal Government and the ARTC on the Inland Rail project on behalf of affected members to ensure robust, evidence-based route selection, full and fair compensation for affected landholders and securing the maximum amount of access for, and economic benefit to, Queensland agriculture.
This year the newly created Safety and Workforce Committee will turn their attention to securing outcomes for members on workforce issues. We are actively participating in the National Agricultural Workforce Strategy in order to highlight the broadacre-specific workforce issues that members face, and going forward we will prioritise making sure industry training needs are met (especially through the Longreach and Emerald Colleges), promoting the industry as a fulfilling and secure career choice, and helping members with individual industrial relations queries to make sure they have access to a well-trained, productive and happy workforce.