31 May 2022. AgForce General President Georgie Somerset
Are we embarking on a new era for agriculture?
It’s a timely question given Australia’s momentous change of leadership - for whom truly knows what the future holds under a Labor Government.
Naturally we venture forth with great anticipation and some trepidation, but also with hope that fledgling Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has our best interests at heart.
If the past is anything to go by then he has previously demonstrated strong support for the opportunities and challenges facing our industry.
And if his recent election commitments are an indication of things to come then there is everything to play for.
His pledge to establish better connectivity for rural and regional Australia, for example, is something we have been crying out for, and the commitment to strengthen the country’s biosecurity system has never been more important with the looming threat of lumpy skin disease and foot and mouth.
However, alarm bells are also ringing.
Early in the campaign, Labor put the brakes on a solution to farmers’ crippling workforce shortages by all but scrapping the industry-led Ag Visa.
Then it revealed its intention to end live sheep exports – a bitterly disappointing decision, particularly given industry’s significantly improved animal welfare standards and recent growth.
It’s concerning to see them bowing to pressure from radical extremists to the detriment of our farming families, and if this is the way Albanese deals with bullies, then we could be in for a rough ride.
Sadly, the world has too many anti-agriculture activists hell bent on demonising our industry, and giving in to their demands will only encourage them to shout louder.
Time will tell whether or not our journey with Labor will be harmonious or fraught with difficulties.
But one thing is for sure: standing up for Australia’s rural communities will require a backbone.
It’s the very least our farmers deserve.