Industry bodies representing farmers for a decade have been too busy agreeing with 90 per cent of government agenda which has all but killed their farmer members. Unfortunately most members or spokesmen for these organisations are potential career politicians, naturally hoping to represent what is remaining of the hopeless National Party.
New research by the Australian Farm Institute says Australia’s peak farming bodies are ineffective in changing government policy and need to lift their game.
The report was launched today in Canberra and says the root cause of the problem is a fragmented landscape of more than 50 groups across the nation and a declining membership base which is increasingly disengaged.
The research surveyed farmers and the media and compared our advocacy groups with other countries such as New Zealand and France. It found farmers have little confidence in the ability of their peak bodies to change government policy and believe membership of the groups provides poor value for money.
Mick Keogh, executive director of the Australian Farm Institute, said deregulation of the farming sector in recent decades has left the peak bodies with less policy clout. Rapid changes in digital communication has also meant peak bodies are no longer the only conduit for farmers’ concerns.
Ray Johnson is a former CEO of the NSW Farmers Association and he believes farmer groups need to work harder to gain traction in the public eye. He says lobby groups such as the Minerals Council have done a much better job at pushing their agenda and farmer groups need to unite with one voice.
Mick Keogh, executive director of the Australian Farm Institute
Andrew Broad, Federal Nationals member for Mallee and former president of the Victorian Farmers Federation
Ray Johnson, former CEO of the NSW Farmers Association