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In highlighting Australian Made Week, Grain Producers Australia has welcomed new federal Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt, signalling his policy commitments and government priorities, to help boost profitability and sustainability for Australian grain producers.

Grain Producers Australia Chair, Barry Large said the key themes of Minister Watt’s speech at a recent industry event also reflected the core values of Australian Made Week and GPA’s work and responsibilities representing Australian grain producers on national policy.

“It would be remiss of GPA not to acknowledge Australian Made Week which celebrates and promotes Australia's local manufacturers and growers all around the country,” Mr Large said.

“Representing Australian grain producers is in GPA’s DNA. That’s why we develop and advocate policies which aim to boost grower profitability and sustainability, and for our rural communities.

“When you create greater profitability and resilience for Australian growers, the social and economic benefits are also shared with our local communities and the businesses that support our industry.”

Minister Watt’s speech outlined an optimistic view of Australian agriculture overall, and a roadmap of key policy priorities shared by GPA to help promote future growth and optimise local value capture.

Workforce, biosecurity and input costs were three short term priority issues he addressed. Climate change and sustainability, and taking agriculture further up the value chain, were longer-term ones.

“We’re encouraged by the Minister’s understanding that some real issues exist, below the surface and beyond the current headline numbers forecast by ABARES, that are masking a number of serious challenges our industry is facing and need to be properly managed,” Mr Large said.

“As farmers we take great pride in what we grow but recent high prices have masked the real returns growers should be receiving. Globally Australia is now recognised as the cheapest origin for grain in the world. We need to realise the greater potential for Australian grain and become the boutique of choice, building on our reputation for growing clean, green grain.”

Mr Large said a record 62 million tonne national grain crop valued at an estimated $26 billion may have been forecast for last year, but there’s no room for complacency as these record returns came despite significant production challenges during 2021.

“Record high grain prices were tempered by skyrocketing input costs, ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on the local grains supply chain, severely restricted labour supply, mouse plagues, frost events and severe storms and wet weather reducing crop quality and values at harvest,” he said.

“That’s why GPA has been clearly advocating ways to overcome worker shortages in the grains sector, while tackling other issues such as mouse plagues, and competition.

“We welcome the opportunity to attend the new government’s jobs and employment summit that’s been promised to be held, within the first two or three months of being elected.

“We also look forward to engaging on other election commitments such as the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, and how the $500 million set aside for the agriculture sector can deliver new technologies and other processes to harness the full value of Australian agricultural products.”

GPA Southern Director, Mark Schilling, said GPA was encouraged by the opportunity for future engagement with the new government, on finding ways to capture value-adding opportunities for local growers and industries.

“This is especially important for GPA’s policy ambition to increase local manufacturing of key inputs such as fertilisers and chemicals, to help reduce production costs and mitigate risks,” he said.

“Growers are facing tremendous pressure this year due to record high input costs because we still need it to rain, and deliver grain at harvest later this year, to realise any high prices on offer.

“But if we can also increase local manufacturing by making more products to sell in our own back yards from the different grain varieties we produce here in Australia, while tackling input costs, it can generate win-win outcomes for everyone, including the national economy and jobs.”

GPA Southern Director and RD&E Spokesperson, Andrew Weidemann, said the Minister’s recognition that Australian farmers are not environmental vandals, and live on the frontline of changing weather patterns, was another positive.

“Improving sustainability and resilience for growers and our industry, working with a scientific and commercial focus, has always been a priority for GPA and our members and always will be,” he said.

“It’s also central to our roles and responsibilities representing all Australian levy-paying growers in areas critical to their businesses – RD&E, biosecurity and chemical use and market access.

“Working with government and other partners in a spirit of cooperation, to help design solutions, to manage the impacts of climate change for the sector, presents exciting opportunities for Australian growers and industry. And we’re looking forward to doing this with the new government.

“The Minister’s statement that we can also take advantage of the ‘incredible opportunities’ that exist in agriculture, to earn income from making these adjustments to deal with climate change, is also positive news.

“This is critical given we compete in global grain markets against growers who receive some of the highest, direct government production subsidies in the world, whilst we’re one of the least subsidised agricultural countries.”

GPA Chief Executive, Colin Bettles said GPA was looking forward to working and engaging with Minister Watt, on policy priorities to help provide outcomes for growers and the new government.

“Minister Watt’s address at the 2022 Hort Connections conference last week clearly demonstrates he has real empathy for the farm sector and will approach his new portfolio with an inclusive, problem-solving attitude,” he said.

“We recognise he’s committed to meeting with industry groups, including on-farm, to hear concerns about current and future challenges, and working in partnerships.

“GPA understands there are no silver bullet solutions to some of these issues and that’s why we support a pragmatic approach, collaborating with government and others, to achieve outcomes.

“We also know working in partnership with other government ministers and departments such as trade and treasury is important, to key to success, to help deliver these positive changes.”

Minister’s address at Hort Connections CLICK HERE

Australian Made Week CLICK HERE



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