Australians will head to the polls on May 18 to cast their vote for who will govern the country for the next three years.
The stakes are high for all sides, with both major parties holding a slew of seats on narrow margins.
In Victoria, several seats are in play. In the state's south-west, Corangamite, which includes dairy regions around the rural centre Colac, is held
by Liberal Sarah Henderson on just over 3 per cent.
In the north, Independent Cathy McGowan's retirement as the Member for Indi has thrown that seat back into play. Irrigators along the Murray River
will no doubt vote for who they believe has a better vision for the Basin Plan.
In Central Queensland, the rural seats of Capricornia and Flynn, sitting just on either side of 1pc, offer another opportunity for farmers to play
a role in how the election plays out.
This will be a tough-fought campaign from all sides. But I expect it will be toughest in the regions, where farmers and rural communities have the
power to determine who will form the next federal government.
The Australian Dairy Industry Council has worked with farmers and dairy processors to identify a list of priorities and actions across trade, sustainability
and resource management that the next federal government should deliver.
Integral to securing a more sustainable dairy industry is an ambitious trade agenda. We are asking that the next government ensures high quality, comprehensive
outcomes for dairy in free trade deals with India, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Taiwan and Pacific Alliance, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic
The federal government must continue to invest in climate change mitigation research, and extension programs, as well as provide funding for drought
We are also advocating for tax relief to businesses installing or upgrading to more energy efficient or renewable energy systems.
Everything we are trying to achieve is to contribute to a profitable dairy industry.
Yes, the industry faces continued market volatility, drought, rising input costs such as fodder, electricity and water, and subdued farmgate prices.
But despite these, the outlook for dairy is positive. There is growing demand for high-value dairy products from a rising Asian middle class domestically
Advances in genetics, digital and other technologies can significantly improve farm productivity, supply chain efficiency and traceability and enhance
consumer purchasing power across the globe.
What we need is a political environment that recognises and understands the importance of the dairy industry to the national economy.
Dairy is still Australia's third largest agricultural industry, but we are presented with an opportunity to grow the sector's value.
The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) wants to grow agriculture to become a $100 billion by 2030. Dairy must be a part of this ambitious target.
A courageous government will seize this opportunity and work with industry to address these challenges and opportunities.
Your vote counts on May 18. Vote for the person or party you think will give our industry a fair go to achieve its full potential.
- Terry Richardson, ADF President