The National Farmers’ Federation has launched a Horticulture Council to enhance the interests of Australia’s growing horticulture sector.
NFF chief executive officer Tony Mahar said the move would help ensure horticulture had a stronger, more united voice in Canberra.
“This dedicated, united and tailored body representing the best interests of Australia’s $11 billion production and ornamental horticulture sectors, is essential if we are to continue to grow Australia’s horticulture industries into the future,” he said.
“The new Horticulture Council will build upon the existing work of the NFF as we continue to advocate for the best interests of all Australia’s farmers."
Mr Mahar said recent free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea meant international demand for Australia’s horticultural produce had never been greater.
“The world can’t get enough of our produce including our cherries, stone front and hazelnuts,” he said.
“In 2015, vegetables were Australia’s sixth biggest agricultural export by value followed by fruit and nuts at number eight.”
However, Mr Mahar also said that with growth came additional policy considerations and industry challenges.
He said many of the policy issues impacting horticulture were the same as those in other agricultural industries such as trade and market access; biosecurity; infrastructure; workplace relations and digital technology adoption.
“The diversity of horticulture and the industry’s intensity means there are complexities that do not necessarily exist in broadacre or livestock farming businesses," he said.
“For example, the high requirement for and reliance upon, seasonal workers is one such complexity.
"Failing to manage seasonal labour challenges would directly impact prices paid for our favourite fruits and vegetables – we have to get this right for farmers, farm workers, seasonal workers and consumers alike.”
To form the Council, organisations signed an official Memorandum of Understating agreeing that the forum was established to strive for more efficient, effective, cohesive horticulture policy and advocacy that affects all agriculture at the national level.