NSW Farmers welcomes farm sustainability report
The state’s Agriculture Commissioner has found change is desperately needed to protect future farm sustainability.
The NSW Agriculture Commissioner, Daryl Quinlivan, was appointed in August 2020, delivering on a key election commitment of the NSW Nationals.
Quinlivan came to the role having held a number of senior roles in the Australian Public Service, including the role of Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources from 2015-2020.
Quinlivan's report showed both opportunity and dysfunction in land management, something NSW Farmers Conservation and Resource Management Chair Bronwyn Petrie said needed to be addressed.
“We welcome the report, which has heard NSW Farmers’ calls for a whole-of-government approach to better managing agricultural land,” Mrs Petrie said.
“The Commissioner found sweeping changes are needed to address the dramatic conversion of agricultural land from production to urban and environmental and renewable energy uses".
Ms Petrie firmly believes the State Government needs to establish an Office of the Agricultural Commissioner. The office's job would be to coordinate all agencies in working together to address the complexity of the planning system and cut red tape.
The growth of regional cities has seen a marked reduction in agricultural land, and NSW Farmers is calling on decision-makers to protect our food supply into the future.
“As the old saying goes, they’re not making any more dirt,” Mrs Petrie said.
“This is not just about high-value soils, but all areas of farmland that make a contribution to regional economic and social structures, and that have the long-term potential to grow and create regional wealth and jobs.”
A recent report from the Australian Farm Institute found positive outcomes for agriculture and regional communities were closely linked. But with a 14 per cent reduction in agricultural land from 1973 to 2017, NSW Farmers strongly encourages the government to require all agencies to consider the future of farming in their decision-making processes.
“We’re working to grow our sector to $30 billion by 2030, and we need a clear plan of what land is needed to ensure the long-term security of regional areas, as well as the supply of food and fibre to the NSW economy,” Mrs Petrie said.
“As part of this best practice approach, an ongoing evaluation process must be in place to measure the effectiveness of ag land protection.
The Commissioner's report also addressed the huge public input around renewable energy expansion. Ms Petrie pointed to this fact, saying it shows a clear need for a dedicated Office where the valuable concepts raised in this report can be developed and implemented in a whole of government, coordinated way.