It was an exciting week when the NSW Farmers held their annual conference in Sydney - at Luna Park, no less. I was one of this region's representatives and one almost 300 farmers who met to discuss important policy issues and hear from political and industry leaders.
The conference is a critical part of NSW Farmers' policy formulation, being the ultimate decision-making mechanism. Water was the big issue, mostly around the Murray Darling Basin Plan, but everything from native vegetation to drought, rural crime and the threats from animal activists, biosecurity and glyphosate use were discussed.
We championed a number of issues on behalf of this region, including having listed weeds included on sale contracts, simplification of insurance for landcare groups, support for the new Australian Agricultural Centre at Crookwell, and declaring deer a pest animal.
The conference also supported mandating the use of local anaesthetics/analgesics during mulesing through industry mechanisms. As was to be expected this issue was hotly debated, not because of any disagreement about the need for local anaesthetic/analgesics but the implications of taking the next step of mandating their use.
Of particular interest to our region, and many others with the increase in "life style" blocks, was a change to the organisation's constitution to create a new membership category for those with interests in a small farm. This category is cheaper and does not come with voting rights but enables a mechanism for the smaller rural constituents to become part of the NSW Farmers network.
If you are interested in joining NSW Farmers you can go to www.nswfarmers.org.au. An organisation is only as strong as the membership and more members means more clout in the halls of power, particularly with NSW government.