NSW Farmers has been supporting and advocating for rural and regional communities and farm businesses for 130 years. To ensure this continues for another 130 years, the Association has examined member feedback to see what it needs to do to continue to positively champion agriculture across the state.
NSW Farmers’ CEO Pete Arkle says the sector has remained strong in the face of the worst drought on record, a record-breaking destructive bushfire season and now a global pandemic that has interrupted agriculture supply chains.
“Despite this adversity, the strength and endurance of NSW farmers shines through. Our grain growers have been planting the biggest crops in some years and the rainfall across much of the state over the past few weeks and months has been very promising.NSW Farmers’ CEO Pete Arkle
“It’s important to remember even when we were in the thick of drought, our sector contributed almost $12 billion in value to the NSW economy in 2018-19,” Mr Arkle says.
Membership of NSW Farmers has continued to grow, despite the hardships faced by many farm businesses, and the Association is working hard to continue to deliver real results for members.
“The NSW Farmers’ Board has put extensive work into developing this five-year strategic plan and I thank our Board members for their hard work and dedication on this.”
Six pillars of NSW Farmers’ strategic plan
To maintain and grow the strength in the NSW agriculture sector, NSW Farmers has formalised six pillars of its five-year strategic plan.
1. Strengthening our connections with farmers
NSW Farmers’ Regional Service & Sales Manager Jonathan Tuckfield says the Association will actively highlight the wins, not only for members but for all farmers across the state.
“We are stronger together and attracting and retaining our members ensures we’ll continue to remain one of the country’s most formidable advocacy bodies. Last year we exceeded our membership growth target and this year we’re working to do the same.”
2. Being a respected and trusted advocate
NSW Farmers is committed to being a respected, trusted and formidable advocate that successfully influences stakeholders to deliver the change our sector needs to reach its goal of becoming a $100 billion industry by 2030.
“To achieve this, NSW Farmers must be in a position to work with all major and minor political parties, as well as independents, and we do just that,” says Annabel Johnson, NSW Farmers’ Head of Policy.
“Our current advocacy efforts concentrate on post COVID-19 recovery and reform, including strengthening supply chains, improving and expanding markets, achieving water and environmental reform, and building vibrant regions.”
4. Delivering valued products and services
Delivering for its members is at the heart of what the Association does. The Association’s Workplace Relations team, headed up by Gracia Kusuma, provides accurate, tailored and practical advice on all facets of farm employment.
“Over the past 12 months the team successfully delivered both face-to-face and online workshops on a range of matters,” Ms Kusuma says.
“The virtual option of convening workshops have been greatly embraced by members, and it’s an avenue that we’ll continue to utilise in our member engagement. The Advice Line continues to support members through various employment circumstances, including the challenges of operating safely and productively in a COVID-19 environment.”
4. Engaging and growing our people
NSW Farmers’ new strategy places a particular focus on growing our people and engaging the new generation of farm leaders. That’s why the Association is supporting representatives through committee and media training, and supporting emerging leaders to develop skills, knowledge and confidence to make an added contribution towards the association’s success.
5. Effective governance
As a public company, accountable to members, NSW Farmers has taken the right steps to ensure its governance meets the highest standards. The focus has been on building governance capabilities, including through externally-facilitated Board training. The Board has also developed a new Board Charter.
6. Responsibly managing members’ funds
“With a strong investment and property portfolio, NSW Farmers is committed to responsibly managing members’ funds to grow our organisation and enable us to deliver our strategic goals,” says Luke Messer, Chief Financial Officer of NSW Farmers.
“The financial result in 2019 was a solid one, and despite COVID-19 throwing a spanner in the works, the Association was able to withstand the impact without a major disruption to our operations and member services. NSW Farmers looks forward to the continuance of supporting our members to grow our food and fibre industries, and supporting the growth of strong and vibrant regions across NSW.”