Farmers call for new era of regional investment 


NSW Farmers are spearheading calls for a new era of investment in regional NSW at the Daily Telegraph’s Bush Summit in Dubbo today.
 
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said now is the time for a fresh approach to building resilience in regional communities through improved water and transport infrastructure and regional food hubs.
 
“This drought has been extremely tough for many farmers and communities. Drought management strategies adopted by farmers and government support have helped, but it’s time for some long term solutions,” Mr Jackson said.
 
“That means more dams to secure water supplies for food and fibre production and communities and investment in transport infrastructure.”
 
“The cost of domestic freight and logistics for some agricultural products such as beetroots are twice as much as the international leg of the journey. The cost to travel less than 1000km is twice as much as travelling more than 10,000km.”
 
Mr Jackson said Australia should take inspiration from countries like the Netherlands and develop regional food hubs linked to regional airport and transport hubs.
 
“The Netherlands is the same size as the Sydney catchment, yet is the second largest exporter of food. They have achieved this through what they call agro hubs that link food production, processing, research and transport.”
 
“Australia is a much bigger country, but the concept of regional food hubs would benefit farmers and communities through increased market access and local employment.”
 
“This is not the time to be pinching pennies. This is the time for governments to take advantage of the historically low cost of debt and fund the big investments in regional NSW that will set it up for generations to come.”
 
“We commend the NSW Government on establishing the multi-billion dollar Snowy-Hydro Legacy Fund for regional NSW.  We would like to see an equally bold regional agenda from the Federal Government.”
 
Mr Jackson said regional investment must also be backed with equitable digital technology, reforms to competition policy and farm income protection. 
 
“Addressing poor and inconsistent access to communication technology has the potential to increase gross value of production by $20.3 billion, which is a 25% increase on 2014-15 levels.”
 
Mr Jackson said a recent NSW Farmers competition paper demonstrated that national competition paper is failing farmers and consumers.
 
“This failing is clearly evident in the dairy industry. Farmers have little bargaining power in a country that has the most concentrated groceries market in the world.”
 
“We need more competitive supply chains in Australia, so the value that is created from producing food is shared fairly up and down the supply chain, so farmers can invest in efficiencies and innovations to ensure a viable farming sector well into the future. “
 
Date: Thursday 18 July 2019
Media Contact:  Michael Burt  | 0428 228 988 | burtm@nswfarmers.org.au