A LOCAL farming representative has called on the government to cut red tape, stop illegal dumping and simplify food labelling.
NSW Farmers Association Griffith branch president Helen Dalton outlined the three major issues stifling local agriculture in response to Riverina MP Michael McCormack's urging of farmers to contribute to a government white paper about agricultural competitiveness.
Mrs Dalton said bureaucratic double-handling and tedious regulatory compliance was the costliest burden on farming.
"We pay for bureaucrats that aren't providing us with any particular benefit, they don't work together and they're dragging us down," Mrs Dalton said.
"There are eight bureaucracies managing water in the MIA with their hands in our pockets where there used to be just one.
“All these government departments keep asking us to tick the boxes and while we’re doing that we can’t get out there and farm –it’s just keeping someone in a job to file the papers.”
On the issues of illegal dumping of cheap produce and confusing food labelling, Mrs Dalton said the government needed to do more.
“I agree with the cost of complying with food quality standards but at the same time foreigners are bring in cheap, poor quality food which is putting us out of business every day,” she said.
“We also need better rules to simplify labels so consumers know exactly where their food is coming from, making it easier to buy Australian produce.”
Mr McCormack invited farmers and related industries to contribute their thoughts on food security, access to investment finance, regulation, transportation, agricultural competitiveness as well as the contribution Australian agriculture makes to regional economies and communities.
“The agricultural competitiveness white paper is about forming Australia’s long term agriculture policies and consulting with growers, producers and other key stakeholders to see what can be improved,” Mr McCormack said.
“Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce wants this white paper to have as much input from farmers, regional communities and associated industries as possible, because they are the people best placed to help us formulate good policy.
“Barnaby Joyce has said this is the time to think big on Australian agriculture.
“Many people have a view about ways we can improve our production and competitiveness, and this is the best forum to voice those ideas.”