Future of Tasmanian agriculture clear as mud


State politicians battle it out at AGFEST to ensure the future of agriculture in Tasmania

AGFEST is shaping up to be a political battleground, with the state’s politicians talking out their respective plans for the future of the agricultural industry.

Primary Industries and Water Minister Jeremy Rockliff, unveiled the Safe Farming Tasmania program which targets the dispropotionate amount of deaths and injuries in the industry.

He was also keen to spruik the Government’s AgriVision 2050 plan.

“Never before has the Government set such an ambitious agenda. We are critically working alongside farmers to assist them in boosting productivity more than any government before,” he said.

The plan, which was taken to the 2014 State Election, aims to increase Tasmania’s agricultural exports tenfold to $10 billion by 2050.

State Opposition Leader Bryan Green has criticised AgriVision, saying it is merely a "natural progression" based on what has been forecast.

“The Liberal Party have suggested a growth plan for the agricultural sector that essentially matches CPI,” he said.

“We invested heavily in making sure we gave the sector the best opportunity we possibly could.”

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Peter Skillern voiced concerns that export constraints weren’t being properly addressed in the plan.

You can't expand agriculture without looking at intrastate transport, he said.

“How can we expand the sector if we have a bottleneck in terms of getting product out of the state? Farmers are concerned about freight going forward,” Mr Skillern said.

He also discussed the lack of direction in the AgriVision plan.

“It has substance, but at this point in time, it doesn’t have any meat on the bones,” he said.

“At the moment we have an endpoint target, but no plan to get there.”

 Images: Erin Cooper