What NSW Farmers has achieved

Updated August 2020

1. Drought, bushfires and COVID

NSW Farmers moved swiftly to ensure agriculture was appropriately protected from COVID-19 disruptions. We successfully advocated to have agriculture recognised as an essential industry and led a national advocacy campaign to deliver an agricultural worker permit during border closures.

2020 saw NSW Farmers achieve wins on drought relief with an additional $350 million in funding for the Farm Innovation Fund loans, a new drought loan and additional funding for the drought transport subsidy, including expansion to aid re-stocking transport costs.

Other advocacy efforts led to the extension of commonwealth funding for the Emergency Water Infrastructure rebate scheme past 2020 and access to programs to aid recovery and rebuilding for dairy farmers and oyster growers following the 2019 - 2020 bushfire season.

Following the 2019-20 bushfires, NSW Farmers achieved legislative change to increase boundary clearing up to 25 metres for landowners and played a critical role in securing $209 million for the replacement of fences adjoining national parks, under the good neighbour funding program.

2. Strengthening supply chains and infrastructure

NSW Farmers has successfully managed to reduce barriers and cut red tape to freight movements. We raised concerns with government around unnecessary regulation holding up farmers during their day-to-day
activities and pleasingly we’ve seen a simplification for Over-Size Over-Mass vehicle movement and increased width and simplification of permit/movement approvals within Local Government Areas across the state. NSW Farmers was also involved in securing infrastructure upgrades- including along the Great Western Highway, Newell Highway and countless bridges and roads across regional NSW. We also secured online renewal for concessional vehicle registration and a determination regarding number-plate requirements when towing agricultural implements on public roads.

We’re pleased to have also seen increased access without permits for heavy vehicles travelling on the Newell Highway including removal of restricted movement through Parkes and improved access across two level crossings south of Parkes to allow heavy vehicle unimpeded movement.

3. Driving premium products

Our world-class food and fibre underpins our access to international markets and premium prices, and this is enabled by strong biosecurity systems, research and development, and value chain innovation. NSW Farmers’ advocacy was pivotal in influencing the NSW Government’s decision to allocate over $43 million to research defences to superbugs and biosecurity outbreaks. We’ve been instrumental in achieving stronger protections against illegal farm incursions and have increased awareness around the biosecurity risk these activities present to farms. 

4. Growing your farm business

Agriculture is the largest contributor to economic growth in regional NSW. To build profitable farms and support more certainty in investment, the regulatory environment must support business development and expansion. That’s why NSW Farmers led the charge to have a NSW Agriculture Commissioner appointed in August 2020. The Commissioner must have a role in identifying obstacles for farmers and influencing meaningful change.

We also fought hard to create fair and competitive supply chains for farmers. We successfully secured the ACCC Perishable Goods Inquiry where we highlighted the issue of unfair contract terms and called for the introduction of fair dealing terms to reduce the monopolistic behaviours by supermarkets.

5. Strengthening security 

Farmers need to know they can securely carry out their businesses and lives without fear of interruption, intimidation, or risk of harm to themselves, their families or their assets – whether that’s infrastructure, crops or livestock. NSW Farmers successful advocacy has strengthened security for farmers. Tougher trespass laws under the NSW Right to Farm Bill now sees penalties more than doubled to $13,200 and/or 12 months imprisonment for aggravated trespass on agricultural land. Our work also means rural trespassers can be given on-the-spot fines that recognise the biosecurity risk they create. 

6. Pest and weed management

Pest and weed management enables farmers to better manage their land and improve welfare and environmental outcomes. NSW Farmers had a significant policy win when we achieved funding to double the Wild Dog Fence along the South Australian and Queensland borders. This accompanied continued funding for the Wild Dog program, which sees our wild dog co-ordinator working with landholders on a range of programs to achieve best outcomes in wild dog management.

NSW Farmers also advocated for an increase in funding in the budget for pest and weed management and were pleased to see the NSW Government setting aside $60 million over two years for the rollout of aerial baiting of feral animals, additional trappers and targeted noxious weed control programs.

7. Supporting young farmers

The attraction and retention of young people to agriculture remains an essential pillar for the growth and prosperity of the sector.

NSW Farmers advocated to the NSW Government to implement a young farmer strategy to assist young farmers in NSW. We’re pleased government listened to us, developing its Regional Youth Action Plan. The
plan has four components it’s focusing on: work ready, wellbeing, connectivity and community.

8. Affordable and sustainable energy

Rising energy costs have placed a large burden on the farming sector, exacerbating the financial effects of drought and bushfires for farm businesses and the farming families who run them. Having access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy is a must, and NSW Farmers’ advocacy is delivering better energy outcomes for our members. We have also continued our ongoing work with the energy sector to develop the Energy Industry Customer Charter, which requires public accountability from energy companies, including around the basic area of affordability.

9. Improving Workplace Relations

NSW Farmers assisted members in resolving more than 1,400 employment related queries and issues in 2020. In one case alone, our Workplace Relations team saved a member more than $30,000 when they were subject to a pay dispute matter.

NSW Farmers also identified and raised an issue with the calculation of expense-related allowances under the Pastoral Award in 2020, resulting in the Fair Work Commission amending the allowance rates to the overall benefit of farming employers. We also received an additional $1.8 million in funding to secure the extension of the Quad Bike Safety Improvement Rebate Program and $2 million to fund a Farm Safety Advisory Program for four years as a result of the successful completion of the Pilot Program. 

10. Vibrant regions

Building vibrant regions goes part and parcel with thriving agricultural communities. NSW Farmers advocates for improved regional infrastructure, including better roads, bridges and rail, as well as better digital connectivity and services such as health and education.

We successfully advocated for additional state and commonwealth funding to improve connectivity (voice and data access) across regional NSW, including the roll out of further rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program and new connectivity trials for remote area access.

We also secured government funding for two years for the Kids to Farms program to expand school students’ connection to agriculture.

11. Water

Water issues are always a key focus for NSW Farmers. In the past 12 months our Water Taskforce has advocated for improved water management across the state. We have achieved a review into increasing harvestable rights in coastal catchments, successfully advocated for the removal of buybacks of water entitlements from farmers as a form of water recovery, promoted security of groundwater and other
water sources and protection of prime agricultural land from impacts from coal seam gas activities, advocated for comprehensive real-time metering and monitoring for both water quantity and water quality in surface and ground water sources, ensured water sharing is balanced and equally considers environmental, social and economic outcomes and were closely involved in monitoring and providing input into the implementation of healthy floodplains reforms.