Bring on an agriculture commissioner

NSW Farmers is urging the NSW Government to act on delivering a legislated Agriculture Commissioner.

The Coalition committed to establishing an Agricultural Commissioner as part of their 2019 election campaign to advocate for the rights of farmers on a range of issues, including planning, environment, competition, infrastructure and energy, however an appointment has not been made.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said that a legislated Agriculture Commissioner, led by an independent Commissioner, is needed to drive the growth of the sector.

“Agriculture is a critical part of the NSW economy, with the total value of NSW primary industries being $11.9 billion last year (2019) despite the intense and widespread drought,” Mr Jackson said.

“NSW Farmers Association is the advocacy champion for the agriculture sector in NSW and as part of that role, we supported the commitment for an independent champion within the machinery of government.”

“The position must be legislated to ensure that the Commissioner can advocate fiercely within Government for the sector. The Commissioner would support the advocacy work of NSW Farmers and assist in undertaking detailed strategic work, and help ensure that the impacts of government decisions on agriculture are assessed in the deliberations stage.”

“We would like to see the Commissioner work across government agencies to ensure that the rights of farmers are upheld; be it environmental stewardship, informing competition policy, or addressing planning matters.”

Mr Jackson cited the new Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) as an example of a policy instrument that was introduced without properly investigating the implications for farmers.

“The koala SEPP has highlighted the need for an independent champion for agriculture that is across all government departments. It is time for the State Government to act and commit to a legislated Commissioner.”

Source: NSW Farmers