Northern Australia Food Futures Conference

The NT Farmers Association held a successful Northern Australia Food Futures Conference with the theme “Investing in the Future of Agriculture in the North” in Darwin between 11 and 13 April this year.

The Food Futures Conference led the debate in enabling effective policy action to maximise agricultural development in Northern Australia. The conference focused on how development can be achieved by creating an environment where a wide array of stakeholders are brought together and encouraged to learn about and tackle the issues for positive growth across Northern Australia.

The conference was attended by a number of federal and state ministers, including The Honourable Gary Higgins MLA, Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries, along with government officers, bankers, business, agribusiness, producers and representatives of producer bodies.

Speaker’s topics included:

  • Senator Matt Canavan, the Federal Minister for Northern Australia – ‘The case for northern development: perspectives of the Australian Government’
  • Brian Wilson, the Chairman of the Foreign Investment Review Board – ‘Foreign Investment Review Board update’
  • Jim Engelke, Kimberley Agricultural Investments – ‘Making foreign investment work on the ground’
  • David Williams of Kidder Williams, specialists in agri-sector investments – ‘Investor’s perspective of agri-investments’
  • The Honourable Mia Davies, Minister for Water (WA) – ‘Water for food’

Panel session topics included:

  • What do investors want? Making new investments work (the commercial realities of agricultural investments)
  • Crop economics (where the opportunities might be within crops and regions)
  • Crop systems (cropping systems for successful developments)
  • Logistics and supply chains (insights and understanding about moving product to markets)
  • A perspective from the top (by the three northern agriculture ministers)
  • Human capital for development (the role of R&D in developing a successful industry)
  • Working with the pastoral sector (farming on pastoral properties is advancing)
  • Greenfield developments
  • Public models for development
  • What our leaders think (Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and water, and Joel Fitzgibbon MP Shadow Minister for Agriculture)
  • Land tenure (new thinking around land tenure)
  • Water (the balance between water, environment and development)

The take home messages were:

  1. That the winning formula combines local expertise, foreign expertise, foreign investment and a route to market.
  2. Land tenure is no longer an impediment to development.  There are innovative ways to remove land tenure as an issue.
  3. Investors need water security into the future over a long time scale.  There are concerns about the effects of policy and climate on this.

The 2016 Northern Australia Food Futures Conference held in April at the Darwin Convention Centre was a great successArthur Cameron (NTG), Annette Duncan (NTG), Linda Bennison (Soil Science Australia and Australian Society of Agronomy) and Bob Williams (NTG) sharing a drink at the conference welcome reception hosted by the Hon. Gary Higgins, Minister for Primary Industry and FisheriesPlant Industries Development officers Ian Biggs, Mila Bristow and Callen Thompson at the welcome receptionNTG officers Tania Moloney, Jason Hill and Mila Bristow discussed northern development with conference delegates at the NTG conference display

Last updated: 30 April 2020

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