Agricultural portfolio pushed from pillar to post

Opinion: Agricultural portfolio pushed from pillar to post

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The agriculture portfolio has already changed hands four times in the last three years.

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Outgoing federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie.

Outgoing federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie.

Agriculture is a key portfolio in any government.

There are approximately 85,483 agricultural businesses in Australia, which contribute more than $60 billion to the national economy.

However, the portfolio is often thrown from pillar to post with agriculture already changing hands four times in the last three years.

As an industry, we already grapple with the variability of rain, drought and bushfire.

We do not need additional pressures imparted on our businesses.

However, we now find ourselves caught under a cloud of political uncertainty as we anxiously wait to see who the next federal agriculture minister will be, following Bridget McKenzie's resignation (pictured).

If the agricultural industry is to realise the ambition of becoming a $100 billion industry it must be provided with strong vision, leadership and willingness to provide a stable regulatory framework.

These attributes are critical ingredients in creating an environment that stimulates innovation and growth.

About 65 per cent of Australia's crop is exported to trading partners.

Government has a responsibility to create a trading environment that remains attractive for our trading partners, while ensuring producers are provided with market access.

Agriculture being used as a political football carries the real risk of jeopardising the viability of individual farming businesses as well as the agri-sector as a whole.

The VFF anxiously waits to see how the political jostling unfolds in the hope the sector is provided with a strong minister who can provide the stable governance we have all been crying out for.

The VFF will work closely with the government and minister of the day, and ensure the concerns of our membership are echoed within the halls of the federal parliament.

  • David Jochinke is president of the Victorian Farmers Federation
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