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.
$43 million of food waste linked to worker shortage
It is estimated that over $43 million-worth of fresh Australian fruit and vegetables have been left to rot or replanted due to the dire worker shortage facing Australian agriculture. The news comes following last week's National Cabinet meeting where, despite being a number one priority, a unanimous decision on the quarantine arrangements for overseas workers could not be agreed to.
Final EPBC report released
Yesterday, the final report of the second Independent Statutory Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) was released. The NFF welcomed the release having long sought reform of the Act and will continue to engage in continued discussions on the detail and implementation of proposed reforms.
New Shadow Minister for agriculture portfolio
Yesterday, Opposition leader Anthony Albanese announced a shadow cabinet reshuffle which saw current shadow agriculture spokesperson Ed Husic replaced by Tasmanian MP Julie Collins.
Grants for innovative farmers up for grabs!
Australian farmers, producers and manufacturers can now apply for financial support from the Coles Nurture Fund to help them innovate and grow. Grants of up to $500,000 for small and medium sized businesses to develop new products, technologies and processes are up for grabs.
Free financial skills workshops for farmers
Rabobank will be running a new series of financial skills workshops for farmers in February and April 2021. Delivered online, the free courses will improve your understanding and interpretation of business reporting. Registrations are now open.

Find out more about RIC's AgriStarter Loan
The RIC recently launched the AgriStarter Loan to assist first time farmers and support farm succession arrangements. For those looking for more information about the loan, you join the free AgriStarter Loan webinar.
Weekly insight
Positive year ahead for Australian farmers
In its flagship annual Agribusiness Outlook for 2021, Rabobank forecasted a generally profitable 2020/21 season for most Australian farmers. The forecast is based off an expected recovery for a majority of farmers along the east coast following years of drought as well as limited exposure to COVID-19 restrictions, diversifying international markets and increasing sustainability.

Source: Rabobank, 2020
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Samuels charts a new path on EPBC

After a year long review process, and following many years of advocacy by groups such as the NFF, Professor Graeme Samuel’s final report into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) was publicly released this week.

The report acknowledges that for more than two decades, both businesses and the environment have suffered due to a failure to improve the EPBC Act and its implementation. It describes the Act as ‘complex and cumbersome’ and points out duplication of state and territory regulations – a longstanding source of frustration for farmers.

Running to over 200 pages, the full report is now being digested by policymakers and advocacy groups, however it is clear that longstanding issues have been recognised, and a detailed process to improve the Act has now been laid out.

In articulating principles which should underpin fundamental reform to the EPBC Act, Samuels has said a new Act must enable the Commonwealth to:

• set clear outcomes for the environment and provide transparency and strong oversight to build trust and confidence that decisions deliver these outcomes and adhere to the law;
• actively plan for environmental outcomes and restore the environment to accommodate Australia’s future development needs in a sustainable way;
• measure effectiveness to ensure that the Act delivers the right level of protection to make a difference for the environment and to support adjustments where changes are needed; and,
• respect and harness the knowledge of Indigenous Australians to better inform how the environment is managed.
The centrepiece of Samuel’s proposed reforms is the adoption of new, legally enforceable National Environmental Standards. Development of interim standards has been underway for some months in anticipation of the Report’s release.

In its advocacy for farmers in relation to these new standards, the NFF has been clear that it will judge them against the following principles:

• Clear understanding of how jurisdictions, acting in concert with the NES process, would adjust their own legislations and incorporate the implementation mechanisms and how the devolution would work;
• Data, biodiversity and other indicators, consultation and strategic implementation are designed into a regional level process;
• The impact of the full reform package is transparently communicated to the sector and it is clear that farmers will not be worse off than the status quo as a consequence of the reform process, and preferably have an improved engagement and understanding;
• Ensuring draft NESs are able to be tested via a case study approach by user groups prior to them becoming enshrined via a legislative instrument.
• Demonstration that scope creep has not been embedded in the NES;
• Satisfaction that measures that balance economic and social indicators are afforded equal footing with environmental priorities; and,
• Farmers can conduct themselves under continuing use provisions (Section 43 A and B of the EPBC Act) that do not compromise standard and accepted farm practice.

The NFF is continuing to engage in the process for developing these interim standards to ensure they improve the operation of the Act for both farmers and the environment.

The Federal Government is now considering other recommendations from the Samuel Review before providing its response to each of the 38 recommendations in the coming months.

Quote of the week
"There have been some people who haven't been able to pick the crops, and they've just walked away from blocks, which is very sad."

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

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