The newly-minted National Farmers' Federation president unloaded on the Albanese government and its "anti-farming policies" in a blistering first speech.
David Jochinke vowed to make the government "wear every misfortune it inflicts on Australia's farmers like a crown of thorns", as the NFF launched a campaign against the federal government.
"They will own every farm closure, every school struggling to stay open as families leave town, every extra dollar Australians are forced to hand over for their weekly shop," Mr Jochinke said.
"Right now, we're facing an avalanche of bad ideas, that if seen through will see farmers walk off the land, and indeed see entire industries closed for no good reason.
"These policies will see farmers grow less tomorrow than they do today. That's a remarkable agenda for a government to have in the current environment."
The national campaign, Keep Farmers Farming, will push back against several federal policies such as water buybacks, the proposed live sheep export ban, and raise the alarm about the upcoming debates around environment laws, transmission lines and competition policy.
Mr Jochinke, a third-generation farmers from north-west Victoria, said it was clear food and fibre production was not a "central priority" of the government and "languished as the poor cousin of other more fashionable agendas"
"What we're seeing instead is a rapid decline in the policy environment for farmers -in some cases, this is through sheer ignorance of our sector," he said.
"In other cases, we're seeing the Government actively pursue a niche ideological agenda at the expense of farmers, and against our clear advice.
"We cannot stand by and watch a government slowly erode the basic foundations of our farm sector. If we do nothing, the next three to six months will see decisions made which will reduce our access to farmland, to water, to workers and to overseas markets."
Mr Jochinke said shutting down an industry that had gone above and beyond to meet community expectations was "fundamentally bad policy and a terrifying precedent".
"The question for farmers - whether they're involved in live export or not - is this: if this government is willing to shut down an industry on the basis of a discredited activist campaign: who's next?" Mr Jochinke said.
Farmers felt lied to and betrayed by Labor's decision to open up the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to water buybacks, without safeguards for regional communities or consultation "in favour of an easy political win".
"It's the motives here that are most galling - this is not about the health of the river, it's about politics," Mr Jochinke said.
"If it was about the health of the river, the Minister would have taken the time to assess the alternative proposals she herself asked for - which could more than complete the plan without buying back a single drop."
The industry was fighting a battle on several fronts to protect access to farmland, Mr Jochinke said, and its concerns were at risk of being swept aside for renewable projects, transmission lines and climate policies.
"If farmers are voiceless in the energy transition, we'll get rock bottom outcomes for agricultural productivity," he said.
"Same goes for the climate transition. Our farms are the 'net' in the Government's net zero plan. Offsets from farmland are once again forecast to represent the lion's share of Australia's climate action."
Mr Jochinke feared that if the upcoming reviews of the nation's environmental and cultural laws were done poorly, it could effectively prohibit sustainable food and fibre production on vast swathes of Australia's farmland.
"There is a real risk that if the government takes the wrong advice, we'll end up with... further eroding our access to productive farmland," he said.
Despite the strong words, Mr Jochinke said the industry had "fantastic engagement with this government from the Prime Minister down" and the campaign was an invitation to turn around bad ideas.
The Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is a terrific bloke... these are not bad people.," he said.
"But these are busy people with a busy agenda, and they're allowing bad ideas to fester on their watch because they have other priorities. It's up to us to make farming the priority.
"We need to make ourselves incredibly clear that these are bad ideas that will ultimately drive farmers out of business, harm rural communities and push up the cost of living for everyday Australians."
Earlier at the conference, the Agriculture Minister was surprised the sector's peak industry body launched a campaign against the Albanese government - a move he labelled "just politics".
* ACM Agri, the publisher of this masthead, is proud to be the media partner for this campaign.
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