Key Achievements

Updated December 2021

Standing tall through drought, bushfires, and floods

Farmers have borne the brunt of successive climatic challenges over the past few years. NSW Farmers has supported the agriculture sector in recovery from prolonged drought, the unprecedented bushfires of 2019/2020, and the flooding events of 2021. While most farmers across the state are enjoying improved seasonal conditions, we remain committed to building resilience and drought preparedness.
Drought - $310m from NSW Government in drought assistance; commitment of $1bn to the Farm Innovation Fund; additional funding to extend the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate.
Bushfire - grants and loans to aid primary producer recovery, including $209m in grants to farmers to repair and replace boundary fencing.
Floods - grants of up to $75,000 for rectification and repair to farm properties following the March 2021 storms and floods.

Mouse plague gnawing away at patience with government 

As many farms and regional communities battled major mouse infestations in late 2020 and early 2021, NSW Farmers relentlessly pushed for a response from government that reflected the magnitude of the problem. Our members brought their stories to the steps of NSW Parliament, resulting in a government support package totalling $150 million in funding.
Secured $95m for farmers to claim a 50 per cent rebate up to $10,000 to cover the cost of zinc phosphide baits, the most effective and environmentally friendly baiting option which NSW Farmers pushed for.
Secured a $50m package for eligible households and small businesses affected by the plague.
Worked extensively with Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall and the RAA to ensure the program was fit for purpose and accessible to those who most needed assistance.

The big disruptor: COVID-19

NSW Farmers acted swiftly in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19, from border closures to trade halts and worker shortages. We worked alongside other advocacy groups to ensure agriculture was deemed an essential service amid state border closures, secured greater movement of international and domestic workers to save critical harvests, and helped exporters stay connected with their trade destinations despite major downgrades in international flights. 
Worked closely with NSW DPI, NSW Police and ministerial offices to identify and minimise border closure impacts.
Successfully advocated for the extension of the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) funded in response to COVID-19 trade impacts to be extended from August 2021 to mid-2022 with an additional commitment of $260 million to support exports of perishable goods.
Led national advocacy for the identification of agricultural workers as essential workers under a National Cabinet agreed protocol.
Successfully advocated for 50 per cent quarantine subsidy for international harvest workers under the Seasonal Worker Program.
Advocated for the re-opening of international borders and easing of quarantine arrangements for international arrivals that align with declining infection risks due to high vaccination rate in the community.

Worker shortages causing angst for the second year running

For agriculture, one of the main impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was a shortage of workers as border restrictions seriously limited the movement of people. NSW Farmers relentlessly advocated for state and federal governments responses to the crisis, which threatened to derail major harvests over two consecutive years. NSW Farmers fought to make hotel quarantine more affordable for farmers recruiting workers under schemes such as the Seasonal Worker Program and welcomed the introduction of the industry’s headline workforce policy – a dedicated Agricultural Visa.
Developed the NSW Farmers 10 Point Workforce Plan to address the ongoing workforce issues farmers faced during COVID-19 and engaged with various ministers on the plan.
Initiated the NSW Wool Technical Advisory Group (WoolTAG) to address critical workforce issues in the wool industry, bringing together a cross-section of industry representatives.
Engaged with the development of the legal framework for the Ag Visa and continued to feed into the program design to ensure it was fit for purpose, especially for smaller growers.
Successfully advocated against changes to the legal understanding of casual employment to stop double dipping and other perverse outcomes. 

Preventing further native vegetation green tape

NSW Farmers continues to represent farmers in the struggle to find balance between land management and conservation of native vegetation. For the farming community, preventing further green tape is an achievement in itself – and NSW Farmers has been able to quell efforts to expand restrictive native vegetation laws. NSW Farmers has also been pushing for practical conservation solutions that benefit both farmers and the environment.
Working to improve outcomes of declarations of Critically Endangered Ecological communities to maintain productivity.
Working with government on bio-certification of land areas to allow agricultural development.
Developing better engagement opportunities with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

Land use planning and our key conduit: the Ag Commissioner

As agriculture, renewable energy infrastructure, urban expansion and other land use interests all compete for space in our increasingly busy regional areas, planning will become more and more important. A key priority for NSW Farmers is to ensure agriculture is always considered in significant land use decisions. The Agricultural Commissioner’s first report on land use planning – for which we were key stakeholders – is an important starting point.
Developed a comprehensive document to influence governments on the protection of agricultural land in the face of challenges from mining, renewable energy expansion and environmental legislation.
Worked with the NSW Government to reduce coverage of petroleum exploration licences and cease exploration on new gas fields in the Western Division, however we remain concerned around remaining PELs in the Liverpool Plains and we will continue to advocate for their cessation. 
Negotiated with the NSW Government and energy companies to secure route improvements and compensation for landowners affected by a push into renewable energy generation on agricultural land.
Continued to work with Federal Government and ARTC to improve results on planning for Inland Rail through regional NSW.

Water allocations and better preparation for the dry times

NSW Farmers had another busy year in the water space. A commitment from the NSW Government in the latter half of the year means farmers in coastal regions will have 30 per cent harvestable rights from 2022, enabling them to store water for dryer times – an outcome we have been calling for over the past two years.
Worked closely with the NSW Government to establish an increase in Coastal Harvestable Rights and more investigation to justify further increases in water retention on property.
Continued involvement in ensuring metering and monitoring of water use is implemented fairly and that Floodplain Harvesting regulation is implemented in NSW for fair and equitable sharing of water resources.

Fuel security after global supply chain shock

With global supply chain turbulence over COVID-19, discussions on Australia’s fuel security went into overdrive. Our calls for increased onshore fuel storage were heeded, with four new storage facilities set for NSW and 10 nationally.    
Advocated for increased on-shore storage to ensure Australia’s fuel security resulting in 10 new storage facilities – four of which will be in NSW. This will increase onshore diesel storage by 780 megalitres.
Maintained visibility of the need to retain the fuel rebate for primary producers.

Better roads for farmers and their communities

Infrastructure will be a key investment area as the state and nation look to recover from the fiscal damage of COVID-19. Regional infrastructure has received a significant amount of funding, and NSW Farmers was successful in securing upgrades to key thoroughfares for farmers and regional communities – including the Newell Highway and the Great Western Highway. Significant federal and state funding for the Great Western Highway will bring a sub-three-hour journey from the Central West to Western Sydney into closer reach.
Improved access for heavy vehicles on Newell Highway
More than 900 kilometres of additional road network accessible on, and to the east of, the Newell Highway by Type 1 A-double road trains. These road trains can carry up to 25 per cent more freight per trip than a B-double, which means larger loads and fewer trucks on the road, reducing wear and tear on the road network. 
Increased access through Parkes and realignment of two level crossings has aided the continuous access by road trains carrying both grain and livestock. 
Great Western Highway duplication
State and Federal funding commitment of $4.53 billion to deliver 34 kms of dual carriageway for the Great Western Highway across the Blue Mountains and construct a tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley.

Safer farms mean better farms

Despite the many upsides of life on the land, farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations. That’s why NSW Farmers is committed to ensuring farmers have the tools necessary to make their workplaces safer. The extension of the popular Quad Bike Safety Rebate means farmers can get from A to B on their farm even safer, while a four-year funding commitment for the Farm Safety Advisory Program means small farm businesses will have free access to safety advice on their farms.
Secured extension of the Quad Bike Safety Rebate for a further two years, and funding of $3.7 million for the extension of the Quad Bike Safety Improvement Program to June 2023. The program, which NSW Farmers administers on behalf of SafeWork NSW, offers rebates to farmers purchasing safety solutions related to quad bike use. 
Secured four years’ funding for the Farm Safety Advisory Program, including $2 million for an agriculture-specific Work Health and Safety advisory program available until June 2025 offering small farming businesses free support.