It’s been a challenging year for the self-described simple redneck politician from Queensland, but Agriculture and Water Minister David Littleproud had his eyes on the future when addressing National Farmers’ Federation annual congress in Canberra today.
“We were a $36 billion industry 9 years ago, it was $63b last year and despite the drought, ABARES is still predicting we’ll get to $60b by June 2019,” Mr Littleproud said.
“That shows the resilience of the industry, but also the opportunity that lays in front of us.”
Mr Littleproud has been hit with a range of challenges with his 10 years in the job, such as the drought, Murray Darling reforms, live exports, glyphosate and workforce shortages and now he’s embarking on major reform of farmer-funded research and development.
He said leadership from within industry had bolster political representatives.
“I’m a simple redneck politician from Queensland they don’t listen to me in metropolitan Australia but they listen to your leadership and that’s why we need a strong agriculture voice and strong leadership,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The reality is we have lost a generation, there has been a drain of young human capital out of regional and rural Australia, and we can afford it no longer,” he said.
“I believe for the first time in my 42 years that agriculture is sexy again, no longer should we be saying to our kids it’s all too hard there’s not a quid to be made. There is a quid to be made in agriculture, whether it’s on the land or supporting it.
“It is so important that our narrative around agriculture is a positive one that we set the culture of our own industry about the opportunity that lays ahead of our young people, not only in the traditional pick and shovel jobs but in the new jobs of research and development, and technology.”
Mr Littleproud highlighted his initiative to review research and development corporations.
Duplication of roles and levy payer funding is in the spotlight. Already red meat’s largest RDC, Meat and Livestock Australia, has supported bringing all these organisations under one umbrella.
Mr Littleproud has said he did not support fiefdom protection and “not every child would receive a prize”.
“I commissioned Ernst and Young to undertake a rural innovation review to look at how we can actually enhance our research and development and attract more foreign capital, commercial capital,” he said.
“I can assure you we’ll put that report in place and implement it as quickly as we can to give the grunt to research and development, to make Australia a centre of excellence for research and development technology in ag.
“We do have a bright future and we will make ag an $100b sector. I’ll make this commitment to NFF, I will work with you, you have my commitment.”
The story Ag Minister says ambitious agenda can succeed amid challenges first appeared on Farm Online.