The NSW Nationals have always had a focus on agriculture, a sector worth more than $8 billion to our economy each year. But our support does not stop at farmers, pastoralists, and horticulturalists. We back all food and fibre sectors including fishing and aquaculture, sustainable forestry, wool production, apiculture and the broader domestic food and beverage industry. Together these sectors employ hundreds of thousands of people.

It is vital to assist primary industries to take advantage of increasing global demand for food and fibre products and develop market opportunities in Asia, the Middle East and other new markets through developing supply chains and building the reputation of our clean, green production.

We understand the importance of biosecurity with a focus on managing our state and international borders to safeguard these valuable commodities.

Expanding the Farm Innovation Fund

We know our farmers are some of the savviest business operators in the world, with a firm commitment to sustainably developing their operations. The NSW Nationals in Government are expanding the extraordinarily successful Farm Innovation Fund helping more farmers access cash to drought-proof their farms.

We are also expanding the Drought Assistance Program to ease the financial strain felt by farmers in NSW.

The NSW Nationals know it is crucial to support farmers as they continue to improve their businesses, even during adverse conditions.

The Farm Innovation Fund will continue to back farmers to be more resilient and better prepared the next time. These changes will help drought-proof NSW properties, improve permanent farm infrastructure, and ensure the long-term productivity of NSW.

Protecting the right to farm

The NSW Nationals in Government have created a powerful new rural advocate through an Independent Agriculture Commissioner to protect the right to farm in NSW.

Increased urbanisation means that some of our efficient production practices are now under threat from people who complain about farming noises and smells. These complaints end up in court where well-funded activists use legal tactics to drag out the process, making it unaffordable and unworkable for hardworking farmers, agricultural processors, fishers, and foresters to do their job.

The Commissioner works with the Chief Planner to strengthen standard planning and zoning instruments and review local strategic plans to protect Right to Farm principles, in recognition of the contribution farming makes to local jobs and the broader economy.

Three key areas are a priority; reforming planning and zoning to strengthen the platform for farmers in land-use conflicts, supporting the dairy sector and addressing recent attacks on the industry by ‘Aussie Farms’ group. For the dairy industry, we are doing all we can in NSW to support the increasing challenges dairy farmers face in the processing and retail sector, including the adoption of a mandatory code of conduct.

The NSW Nationals support farmers, fishers, and foresters when their rights are being questioned – we are standing up for farmers.

Related discussion paper:

Rural Crime and Animal Activists

The NSW Nationals protect farmers, families, and communities from rural crime.

In government, the NSW Nationals have acted quickly to protect agricultural properties from rural crime and dissuade criminal activities from animal activists.

Discussion
Throughout 2019, regional communities were placed under siege by an increase in harassing, intimidating and illegal activities by self-proclaimed animal activists.

Activists posted attack maps detailing farming operations and encouraged their members to show up at farming properties and commit offences against them.

The beginning of 2019 saw an escalation in the types of incidents being perpetrated by activist groups, with farming properties, saleyards, restaurants, and cafes, and even schools being targeted.

We are proud to have pioneered introducing harsher penalties to deter rural crime.

Rural crime is not limited to animal activists. Due to their geographical isolation, farms can be targets for stock, equipment, and machinery theft.

Farmers have also had to contend with illegal hunting, fishing, and poaching taking place on their properties often aided using drones to conduct illegal surveillance.

The NSW Nationals have led the campaign to address these challenges, including increasing trespass penalties, reviewing the legislation around drone use, and the need for more police resources in rural areas.

Agriculture is still one of the most important economic drivers for Australia – and regional NSW in particular – with thousands of farming properties directly employing tens of thousands of workers, contributing billions towards our state’s economy.