Negotiations have potential to beef up EU exporting
AFTER a difficult few months in the bush, southwest farmers could stand to benefit from the Australia-EU free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
The negotiations, which will begin in the coming weeks, will work to open export pathways for agricultural produce, including cattle, sheep, dairy and grains.
Agriculture MinisterDavid Littleproud welcomed the negotiations.
"The announcement out of the EU is great news - now we're really cooking with gas,” Mr Littleproud said.
"This has big potential for our farmers and will open up lucrative premium markets.
"So much of the food our farmers produce goes to export and the government will be working hard to make sure our farmers get real benefits from this.
"A high-quality trade deal with the EU could eliminate many tariffs and create new and better export opportunities across some of our biggest sectors including beef and sheepmeat, sugar, dairy, cotton, wool, rice, grains, horticulture and wine.
"In 2016-17 our wine exports to the EU were worth $566 million, wool was worth $333 million and beef and veal were at $229 million.
"All are subject to various quotas and tariffs which means there is huge potential for growth as part of the future FTA.”
National Farmers' Federation president Fiona Simson urged the government to ensure agriculture was at the heart of the agreements.
"Our high quality agricultural products are ideally suited to cater for the European consumer, a consumer who is particularly concerned about food and fibre provenance, food safety, animal health and environmental sustainability,” she said.
AgForce cattle president Bim Struss said the EU negotiations would have a run-on effect for all producers in the west.
"The changes will only directly effect those that are EU accredited however we expect there to be a domino effect for all,” he said.
"The FTA presents an enormous opportunity for graziers to access a much bigger market, which in turn will increase the opportunities for all producers.”