NT Farmers Election Priorities

With the upcoming 2024 Territory Election set for Saturday 24 August, The Northern Territory Farmers Association (NT Farmers) is urging all parties to ensure that agriculture and horticulture remain a high priority. Farmers in the Territory need long term policy settings that provide a stable operating framework and encourage future growth and investment.

NT Farmers Chief Executive Officer Greg Troughton says the upcoming election is an opportunity to highlight the importance of the agricultural industry to the Northern Territory economy.

“Agriculture and horticulture must be at the forefront and a key focus for the election,” he says. “Plant-based industries offer unparalleled capacity to generate long term economic growth that will create opportunities for all Territorians.”

NT Farmers has developed several key industry recommendations considered to be essential to unlocking and protecting the enormous agricultural potential of the Territory. We are calling for progressive legislation and strong policy settings matched with necessary funding in the following areas:

Workforce

NT Farmers would like to work with government and stakeholders on a flexible and fit-for-purpose visa program for seasonal workers, such as the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme. NT Farmers are seeking continued funding for the Timor Leste Worker Support Pilot Program to provide longevity to Timor Leste workers which includes upskilling pathways and social support services. We would also like to replicate this program to include workers from Vanuatu to better ensure reliability and availability of a workforce for the Northern Territory.

Education and Training
NT Farmers calls for continued support to foster agricultural education opportunities within schools to showcase food, fibre and forestry careers in the Northern Territory. We seek the inclusion of agriculture subjects in the primary and secondary curriculum to assist with creating engaged students who view agriculture as a fulfilling and lifelong career.

Responsible Regional Development
It is imperative for the continued progress of agricultural precincts including the Douglas Daly region. NT Farmers is seeking commitment to ensure opportunities for responsible agribusiness development to remain a high priority, complemented with the necessary funding for core infrastructure to enable its full development.

Infrastructure
NT Farmers urges a renewed focus on infrastructure planning and implementation, including roads and telecommunications. It’s imperative in enabling those across the supply chain to not only produce world class products but ensure associated logistics and communications do not unnecessarily hamper economic development. Acknowledging jurisdictional issues, with a particular focus on the current maintenance and upgrading to Darwin Airport runway, NT Farmers would like to see interruptions minimized to ensure Northern Territory growers can take their world class products to the international marketplace.

Indigenous Engagement

NT Farmers are seeking support and funding for two Economic Development Officers to provide direct support and guidance to aboriginal communities interested in agricultural ventures. The Officers will facilitate capacity-building programs to equip Traditional Owners and their communities with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the agricultural sector successfully. Funding for the Economic Development Officers would focus specifically on engagement to assist Traditional Owners to benefit from agricultural business growth thus meeting the proposed outcomes of the Northern Territory Government’s Agribusiness 2030 Strategy. NT Farmers is well placed to assist with the expertise and networks needed to create much needed economic development including jobs in regional and remote regions.

Additional funding to combat Mango Twig Tip Dieback
The mango industry in the Northern Territory is now valued at over $120 million per year, often producing over 50% of Australia’s national product.  We are calling on Government and research bodies to provide support and funding to help bring an end to the scourge of Twig Tip Dieback impacting the mango industry. 

“It is imperative that the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade’s agricultural team is funded appropriately to best ensure the Northern Territory’s plant-based industries, along with other agriculturally based industries, can achieve the $2 billion production value by 2030,” says NT Farmers CEO Greg Troughton.  

“Private sector can’t do it alone and even more importantly, Government can’t do it alone. It also can’t do it without sufficient funding to support balanced agricultural growth, development, and biosecurity protection of the Northern Territory agricultural industry.”

“We know that industry is facing mounting opposition to their social license to operate and produce food, fibre and forestry. Balancing the various competing views of stakeholders and producing food in such an environment is challenging. Achieving the optimum balance moving forward needs commitment to create better certainty,” urges Mr Troughton.

Political commitment, action and funding on these various issues is designed to create enormous benefits for the Northern Territory economy and all Territorians. Plant-based industries should be at the forefront of our new and growing economy.  A balanced approach that creates economic opportunity, whilst enshrining environmental protection and cultural awareness, is essential to developing our plant-based industries.

– End media release –

For further information and media enquiries:

Greg Troughton, CEO of NT Farmers Association

Phone: 0419 813 955

Email: ceo@ntfarmers.org.au

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