The week's news and insights from the National Farmers' Federation
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Welcome to the NFF’s Weekly Wrap, bringing you the week’s farming and political news each Friday.
Industry slams Unions for backpacker visa comments
Australia’s agriculture industry has slammed the Australian Workers Union, Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) and the Transport Workers Union for their call to ban the working holiday maker visa. The NFF said the stunt was a shallow and shameful attempt to grab headlines at a time when the farm sector was facing a dire worker shortage. To help better understand the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture's labour requirements, farmers are encouraged to take part in the Farm Workforce Survey.

Border closures prove challenging
As of Monday 10 August, the New South Wales Government tightened its border restrictions with Victoria as cases continue to spike across the State. As a result of these changes, critical worker permits for non-border region workers can only be obtained through the head of an organisation and the work must be highly specialised and not available in NSW (or Victoria if the worker is providing the critical service in Victoria). For more information on state border closures visit FarmHub.
The Ekka goes virtual
This week Queensland’s largest annual event The Ekka, aka the Royal Queensland Show, went online as it forged ahead in its celebration of agriculture. The Ekka is a fixture on the sunshine state's calendar and the time of year, when the country comes to town in a big way! This year's virtual show consists of a Blue-Ribbon baking Series, Chef’s Special Cooking Show, Paws and Claws show and Meet a Farmer Series.
Community Trust Report highlights value of agriculture
The recently launched Community Trust in Australia’s Rural Industries report has highlighted the fact that Australians view farmers, fishers and foresters as being important to Australia’s economy, identity and future and highly value the products they produce. The report found that the main drivers of community trust in Australia’s rural industries were; environmental responsibility, industry responsiveness and the value of rural industry products to the lives of Australians.
Weekly insight
Wool receivals continue to fall
The latest Livestock Product figures from the ABS show wool receivals for the June 2020 quarter to be at a two-year low. The reduced clip is a result of the large amount of destocking by producers in response to the unprecedented drought conditions that gripped almost all sheep producing regions on the eastern seaboard.
Source: ABS, 2020
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Industry calls for action on cut flowers

Over the weekend, a Landline feature about the biosecurity risks associated with imported cut flowers highlighted the need for Government to act on maintaining Australia’s strong biosecurity and protect Australia’s growers.

A substantial and increasing proportion of the cut flowers sold in Australia are imported, from countries such as Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia and Malaysia. In the decade to 2018 the volume of cut flower and foliage consignments arriving in Australia from exporting countries tripled.

While imports are an important part of agriculture’s supply chain and our status as a trading nation, the biosecurity risk associated with imports must be managed effectively, and must not unduly compromise our unique biosecurity status or put our primary industries and environment at risk.

Cut flowers are known to be a high-risk pathway, capable of harbouring a range of potentially damaging pests and diseases that are not present in Australia.

Unfortunately, live pests consistently arrive at our borders in consignments of cut flowers from a wide range of countries. Between March 2018 and February 2019, live pests of biosecurity concern were detected in 50 per cent of all incoming flower consignments arriving at Australia's border.

A review of import conditions in 2017 found that the high rate of live pests in incoming shipments, coupled with a single point of control at the Australian border had a significant potential for failure.

In response, the Department has implemented a number of changes to import conditions intended to shift the management of risk offshore. Last year industry welcomed the introduction of a new import permit requirement for flowers from Kenya, Ecuador and Columbia - the countries from which we receive the highest volume of imports, and from which there had been consistently high rates of non-compliance.

While these measures have undoubtedly led to improvements, live insects continue to arrive at the border at an unacceptable rate.

While the Department argues that it inspects 100% of incoming cut flower consignments and fumigates those infested with biosecurity pests, industry maintains that these pests should be dealt with offshore - otherwise we are once again in a position of relying on a single point of control.

Once a pest gets into Australia it is up to industry and the taxpayer to bear the costs of eradication. Where eradication isn't possible, industry is left to manage the pest, and live with the loss of production and market access.

While Australia has a natural geographical advantage that means we are free from many pests and diseases found elsewhere in the world, we heavily rely on our biosecurity system and cannot afford to be complacent.

The NFF sees a strong, well-resourced and innovative biosecurity system as underpinning the success of our primary industries, and argues that the most effective and economical way to protect Australia from pests and diseases is before the border.

The NFF has been working closely with member organisations to call on government to take a strong and consistent approach to managing the biosecurity risk associated with cut flower imports.

Quote of the week
"We don’t farm for New South Wales, we don’t farm for Victoria or South Australia — we farm for the whole country."

Sent by the National Farmers' Federation, NFF House, 14-16 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2600

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