March 28, 2013
A survey of farmers in NSW confirmed the need for Local Land Services to be driven by local priorities, NSW Farmers’ Association announced. The association’s Local Land Services (LLS) survey found 65 percent of farmers are dissatisfied with the proposed board structure of the newly proposed LLS. NSW Farmers’ President Fiona Simson said this is a clear message to the steering committee and the reference panel that landholders expect greater rate payer representation on their boards. She said the survey’s preliminary results also revealed that almost 90 percent of respondents value the research, extension and advisory roles currently undertaken by the Department of Primary Industries. “This is consistent with calls we are hearing from our grassroots members and further evidence the government should continue to fund these vital frontline services,” Ms Simson said. “Some 15 percent of total factor productivity growth in Australian agriculture is obtained through publicly funded extension. “We are concerned recent DPI cuts have pre-empted what the new framework will look like and I hope it is not indicative of the government’s commitment to resourcing this new agency. “Boundary determination is another hot issue which needs to be determined by the reference panel and our survey results reveal that landholders support boundaries which reflect current land use rather than the catchment boundaries used by the Catchment Management Authorities,” she said. More than 700 farmers responded to a Local Land Services survey carried out by NSW Farmers in a period of seven days. It is being utilised by the association to ensure the LLS represents a better outcome for landholders than the status quo. Ms Simson said this level of feedback tells us that a much greater level of consultation should have been undertaken prior to the NSW Government’s announcement of any job cuts to any landholder agency. “The scale of this response in such a short time frame clearly demonstrates that NSW Farmers is the voice of landholders throughout this process,” she said. “Armed with this information, we will be providing strong advice and recommendations on the issues which matter most to our members.” NSW Farmers is on the reference panel which is guiding the development of the new agency. The association has made it clear to government the new agency should not be a way to slog ratepayers with the cost of service delivery nor should the panel be just a rubber stamp.