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Farmers Lobby Group ‘Very Disappointed’ With Aspects Of FTA

The National Farmers Federation says the Australia-United State Free Trade Agreement has benefits for Australian agricultural industries, but the US has failed to deliver on free trade in agriculture.

Text of media release from Peter Corish, President of the National Farmers Federation.

CorishThe US Australia Trade Agreement has benefits for several Australian agricultural industries, but the United States has failed to deliver on free trade in agriculture, National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President, Mr Peter Corish said today.

Mr Corish explained that market access gains had been achieved for Australia’s dairy, beef, horticulture, sheepmeat and wool sectors.

“This trade agreement will result in Australian dairy farmers increasing their current access to the US, with growth in access into the future,” Mr Corish said.

“For horticulture, a reduction to zero in the tariff for Australia’s top-four traded products into the US, as well as a deal on avocados, is a real positive.”

However, Mr Corish said that while there were some benefits for agriculture, NFF was very disappointed about several aspects of the deal.

“Australian beef producers will achieve some market access gains, but over an 18 year transition period,” Mr Corish said.

“This is a trade agreement, not a free trade agreement, which was the basis on which NFF engaged in these negotiations.”

Mr Corish said the US Government continued to be captured by the highly protectionist US farm lobby.

“Unimpeded access to the US market for agriculture was not achieved,” Mr Corish said. “This is what we sought from the outset.

“Further, NFF had sought a comprehensive agreement, but sugar has been excluded from the deal. Australian sugar producers will be justifiably frustrated by this outcome.

“It’s extremely hypocritical. The US is a huge agricultural exporter and demands access to overseas markets, but continues to hide behind a veil of protection in its own market.

“Contrary to the US farm lobby’s assertions, Australia is not in a position to flood the US market with product. Our productive capacity simply does not allow it.

“The US has no justification for not allowing Australian farmers unimpeded access into their market.

“The US has simply not come to the party on agriculture in these negotiations. They were never on the same page.

“NFF extends its gratitude to the Australian negotiating team, who have worked tirelessly over the past year and in particular the last three weeks, in the face of intransigent US negotiators,” Mr Corish concluded.

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