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Truss fixes sights on long-term rural industry planning.



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DAFF05/045WT - 1 March 2005

Truss fixes sights on long-term rural industry planning

Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss today announced the appointment of a Reference Group to help guide the development of a new rural industry policy framework.

The announcement of the Reference Group follows the release at OUTLOOK 2005 of an Agriculture and Food Industry Stocktake that will be the first stage in the development of the new policy.

"I want to ensure Government policies continue to allow our agriculture and food sector to maximise its contribution to Australia's prosperity and welfare," Mr Truss told the OUTLOOK 2005 conference in Canberra.

"Many of our industries have achieved impressive productivity growth over recent decades, with their rates of growth outstripping those of the broader economy," he said.

"It is almost 10 years since the last policy review and, in recent years, we have seen major changes in the environment in which Australia's rural industries operate.

"Primary producers, food manufacturers, industry organisations and policymakers alike are being confronted by an increasingly complex and fluid mix of challenges."

Mr Truss said these challenges included traditional issues such as declining terms of trade, competitive and interconnected global markets, changing consumer preferences, protectionist international trading policies and a fragile natural resource base.

At the same time, new and equally important challenges are emerging. Among them are animal rights activism, scepticism about new technology such as genetically modified organisms, new biosecurity risks, rural labour shortages, agricultural land prices and the demand for the farm sector to demonstrate its environmental credentials.

"As a sector, we have to take responsibility for informing community views and promoting debate on public policy issues affecting primary production and food manufacturing," Mr Truss said.

"To help focus attention on the major challenges facing the rural sector, earlier this year I asked my department to prepare an Agriculture and Food Industry Stocktake.

"The Stocktake paper provides a starting point for a wide-ranging discussion among stakeholders - farmers, food manufacturers, industry representative bodies, regional communities and government - about preparing for the future. Copies of the Stocktake are available by e-mailing foodinfo@daff.gov.au

"The Reference Group will liaise closely with industry stakeholders, and

consult widely with Australian farmers and food manufacturers.

"The Reference Group will be chaired by NFF President Peter Corish, and includes people with a broad range of experience in the agriculture and food industries. I will ask the Reference Group to report to me by the end of this year."

Reference Group

Peter Corish (Chair) - President NFF Charles Burke - Vice President NFF Dick Wells - CEO Australian Food & Grocery Council Bill Ryan - CEO Kondinin Group Murray Rogers - Chair of QEAC Alison Watkins - CEO Berri Ltd Fran Rowe - Rural Financial Counsellor and member of Agricultural Finance Forum David Trebeck - ACIL Tasman Ian Sauer - Tasmanian farmer and member of Australian Landcare Council To Be Announced - Youth representative

Terms of Reference

The environment in which Australia's agriculture and food sector operates is becoming increasingly complex. The sector must be positioned to proactively address its diverse mix of traditional and emerging challenges in order to ensure its sustainable and profitable development and maximise its contribution to the wealth and prosperity of the nation. It is for this reason that I have commissioned a Reference Group to provide me with a report on the future directions in Australian Government policies and programs impacting on the agriculture and food sector.

Questions to be Addressed

The Reference Group has been tasked with developing broad recommendations to improve the profitability, competitiveness, and sustainability of the Australian agricultural and food sector. In undertaking its deliberations, the Reference Group will:

● identify the major issues and challenges facing the sector;

● prioritise those issues and challenges in order of importance;

● identify outcomes necessary to enhance the profitable and

sustainable growth of the sector, particularly in relation to the industry issues and challenges previously identified; ● canvass actions required at the business enterprise, community,

industry and/or government levels to achieve those outcomes; ● identify impediments and risks to the achievement of those

outcomes; and ● make recommendations that could be considered by the Australian

Government for further action.

The Reference Group will provide a report to me by 14 December 2005.

Considerations

In exercising its remit, the Reference Group will consult widely with industry stakeholders and give regard to factors such as:

● existing Australian Government policy and program settings for the

Australian agriculture and food sector; ● the broader direction of overarching Australian Government policy;

● the importance of making a strong public policy case for any changes

to industry arrangements taking account of net economic benefits for the nation as a whole; and ● international trends impacting on the sector and initiatives

undertaken in downstream markets or competitor countries.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

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