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Farm Business and Productivity

Ensuring Australian farmers can get on with the business of farming is a key priority for the NFF.
Farm business and productivity policies help Australia's farmers improve their productivity and efficiency and maximise their competitiveness.

Research and development

Policy Position

The NFF is of the view that relevant agricultural Research& Development (R&D) underpins innovation to produce better quality and more competitively priced food and fibre. The NFF fully supports the current model for rural R&D, co-funded through government contributions and agricultural industry levies.


Continuous productivity improvements are required to maintain the sector's competitiveness. Key to advancing these improvements in productivity and profitability is the generation of new knowledge and technology delivered through R&D. Such R&D breakthroughs within agricultural production systems and supply chains can subsequently deliver better quality and more competitively priced food and fibre to consumers.

Our Vision

To spur innovation in agriculture, the NFF supports the following measures:

- Maintain the broad architecture of the rural research and development corporation model, including government contribution matching industry levies.

- Enable regulatory settings such as intellectual property protection and access to technologies for private entities wishing to engage in R&D research.

- Build an attractive investment environment for innovative public-private partnership investments by providing investment and tax incentives.

- Undertake a cross-jurisdictional review of agricultural extension services, investigating how new research can be rolled out to the agricultural industry in general.

More information
For more, view the NFF's recent submissions regarding R&D.

Also available is our July 2015 Release welcoming findings from R&D levy inquiry and December 2015 Release regarding Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Reducing red tape

Policy Position

The NFF is dedicated to removing the unnecessary burden and costs of over-regulation on farmers. Duplicate and excessive bureaucratic red and green tape should be eliminated wherever possible to maximise the efficiency of the Australian farm sector.

The NFF 2016 submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry into the regulatory burden on farm businesses noted the excessive regulation impacting upon Australian agriculture and made a number of recommendations as to how this can be reduced. To view this submission, please see here

More information
For more, read the NFF & Holmes Sackett snapshot of red tape costs on farm in Australia here or view the NFF's recent submissions regarding red tape.


Policy Position

The NFF believes that all rural and regional Australians are entitled to equal access to reliable and affordable telecommunications - and we maintain a constant 'watching brief' to ensure that the Australian Government adequately meets the needs of people in country areas.

Telecommunications services, be it phone, mobile or internet, are of vital importance for farmers and rural businesses, and agriculture is a very technologically-savvy industry, yet the use of modern IT in rural Australia has lagged behind due to inadequacies in service and infrastructure.

The NFF is committed to ensuring that farming families, rural businesses and country communities have equal accessibility, reliability, quality and affordability in telecommunications.

More information
For more, read the NFF'stelecommunications fact sheet below; or view the NFF's recent submissions regarding telecommunications.

To view the NFF Submission into the 2015 Telecommunications Review, please click here.

Rural debt and access to finance

Ensuring access to finance to support small businesses, including farm businesses, is of vital importance to the agricultural sector and rural communities, ensuring these businesses can continue to grow their contribution to employment and the economy.

At the same time, rural debt levels have increased significantly in the last decade – rising by over 85 percent since 2002-03. The rising debt is due in part to prolonged drought followed by flooding rains, and also investments in on-farm capital works as farmers look to improve productivity.

While these investments in capital works should hold farmers in good stead into the future, total farm debt levels at above $60 billion place the agricultural sector at considerable exposure to increasing credit costs. Should the banking sector withdraw its support of the agricultural sector and aggressively foreclose on rural debt, there is potential for regional land prices to fall.

Tightening monetary policies are also having an increasing impact on Australian farmers and posing challenges for the agricultural sector. The NFF believes there is a need to build competition and transparency in the banking sector, improve the understanding by the Reserve Bank of Australia of regional economic conditions, revisit tax based investment mechanisms for regional Australia, and build the education and awareness of risk management tools for farmers.

More information
For more, view the NFF's recent submissions regarding rural debt and access to finance.

Transport infrastructure

Policy Position

Modern and efficient infrastructure is essential to ensuing the agricultural supply chains Australian farmers rely on are internationally competitive. Increased and targeted public, private and end user investment is required to ensure the projects needed to maintain this competitiveness, spearheaded by the inland rail, are delivered in a timely and efficient manner.

The NFF has called for a sweeping strategic overhaul of Australia's freight transport infrastructure. While overtures have been made towards this vision by Government, resources need to be available to ensure that the strategies and policy which exist on paper are turned into on-the-ground infrastructure.

More information
For more, view the NFF's recent submissions regarding transport infrastructure.

Also available are media releases on recent infrastructure annoucements, including: the September 2015 Release on the Inland Rail Delivery Plan.

Farm chemicals

The responsible use, monitoring and storage of farm chemicals is of paramount importance to Australia's farmers, and must be consistently applied across state borders in line with community expectations about safety and sound environmental management.

The NFF represents one of the largest groups of legitimate chemical users in Australia. The NFF proposes and supports policies, programs and alliances that promote the safe and secure storage, handling, transport and sale of agricultural and veterinary chemicals from the place of manufacture through to the point of sale.

More information
For more, view the NFF's recent submissions regarding farm chemicals.

AgStewardship Australia

AgStewardship Australia was established in 2008 to develop and implement stewardship programs to reduce and manage waste for Australia's agricultural sector.

AgStewardship Australia is responsible for two of the most successful agricultural voluntary product stewardship programs in Australia, drumMUSTER®and ChemClear®, which collect and dispose of used chemical containers and unwanted crop protection and animal health chemicals.

To date, the AgStewardship programs have diverted more than 75 percent of packaging that would have otherwise gone to landfill, and safely disposed of approximately 350 tonnes of unwanted chemicals.

The NFF is a founding partner of AgStewardship Australia, along with CropLife Australia, the Australian Local Government Association, the Veterinary Manufacturers and Distributors Association and the Animal Health Alliance (Australia).

More information
For more, visit the AgStewardship Australia website.


The NFF's taxation policy platform pursues an efficient tax system, which supports and facilitates the improving competitiveness of Australian agriculture.

The NFF recognises that all wealth creating sectors of the community have a responsibility to contribute to public goods, services and infrastructure – just as governments also have a responsibility to spend this money wisely by establishing taxation mechanisms to deliver public services across the community.

Taxation can also be a very powerful mechanism to influence behaviour, and, if used effectively, encourage positive outcomes for the economy, the environment and society.

The NFF believes the Government must carefully consider development of taxation-based mechanisms that complement and deliver equitable outcomes in areas such as climate change mitigation, drought preparedness, land use and environmental stewardship. It must also adhere to some overriding tax principles, such as avoiding taxing business adjustment, avoiding negative distortions, avoiding inflammatory outcomes and ensuring fairness and equality.

More information
For more, view the NFF's recent submissions on taxation.

Biotechnology and Genetic Modification

New technologies and the improved use of available technologies - such a biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops - have assisted Australian farmers achieve efficiency and productivity gains, and have helped ensure Australian agriculture can remain competitive on international markets.

The NFF recognises the potential of biotechnology (including gene technology) as a valuable tool within agricultural production systems. The responsible and strategic application of biotechnology within Australian agriculture can result in significant benefits for Australian farmers, the environment, consumers and the Australian economy as a whole. Australian cotton growers, for example, have reduced their use of pesticides by over 90 percent over the last 10 years due to biotechnology and best management pest practices.

The NFF believes that Australian farmers should have the opportunity to adopt production methods best suited to their business needs - be that GM, conventional, organic or any combination of these methods - and that the production decisions of one farmer should not unreasonably impinge on the ability of another farmer to meet the requirements and expectations of their chosen market.

We support research and development into biotechnology, and believe that consumers, like farmers, should have the right to choose what sort of products they use and consume.

To ensure that all Australians have access to credible, balanced and science-based information in order to make informed decisions on biotechnology and gene technology, the NFF is a supporting member of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (formerly AgriFood Awareness Australia).

More information
For more, visit the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia website or view the NFF's recent submissions regarding biotechnology and genetic modification.

Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) is the national coordinating organisation for the Australian agricultural biotechnology sector and was established to pursue recognition of the current and potential benefits of agricultural biotechnology.

ABCA aims to ensure that the Australian farming sector can appropriately access and adopt this technology for the benefit of national and global food security, the nation's farming sector, and the environment - helping to deliver a more sustainable and prosperous future for Australian agriculture.

Working broadly across the agriculture sector, ABCA is committed to providing quality, factual, science-based information about gene technology in agriculture. The NFF is a founding member of ABCA, along with AusBiotech, CropLife Australia and the Grains Research & Development Corporation.

For more, visit the ABCA website.


Australia's national energy policies must deliver affordable, reliable, secure and increasingly lower emission energy to households, businesses and industries. Energy policy needs to be focused on an efficient and smooth transition through a period of significant technological change.

Australian households, businesses and industries are experiencing record high energy prices for a variety of reasons, placing financial pressure on energy users of all levels and threatening the international competitiveness of our trade-oriented economy. The state of the energy generation mix is in significant flux. As fossil fuel based facilities age and as new builds are increasingly less competitive compared to renewable energy technologies, it is crucial to provide the policy environment that allows all technologies to evenly compete in order to deliver affordable, reliable and secure energy in the short term while providing a stable and transitional pathway to a low emission energy future.

A country as large, climatically diverse and resource rich as Australia requires a national energy plan that reflects all opportunities for energy generation and is realistic about the manner in which energy is supplied. There is significant potential for regional communities to take part in the future of Australia's energy generation mix, building stronger and more resilient communities in the process. At the same time, those landholders and industries who continue to contribute to Australia's emissions reductions goals must be recognised and rewarded for their actions.

The Powering Farm Business document provides a summary of NFF's Energy Policy. See here

See NFF's Energy Policy here

See NFF's Climate Policy here

See NFF's Electricity Policy here

See NFF's Mining & Onshore Gas Policy here

More information
For more, view the NFF's recent submissions on energy.


This policy prioritises objectives and outcomes that enhance long-term preparedness, sustainability, resilience and risk management for farming businesses and farming communities in Australia in order to minimise the impact of drought.

It recognises the essential role of farming businesses as the nation's food and fibre producers, important export revenue earners and stewards of 51 per cent of the Australian land mass.

Drought policy cannot be considered in isolation from broader policies that impact on the ability of farmers and rural communities to build profitable and sustainable farming businesses and, in turn, resilient rural communities and a strong agriculture sector. These include water, natural resource management, taxation, animal welfare, regional development, telecommunications, and climate change policies.

The National Farmers' Federation calls on the Federal Government, state and territory governments, and local governments, other agricultural industry bodies, community groups, and agricultural research organisations, to work together to develop and implement a comprehensive, enduring national drought policy.

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