MEDIA RELEASE 9th October 2018: Greens candidate for the state seat of Lismore and commercial dry land rice farmer, Sue Higginson, believes the future is bright to grow the agricultural industries of the Northern Rivers into a food and fibre hub that can lead the state.

“Whilst the rest of the state suffers drought, here on our family farm we have been able to pull off a fodder crop of triticale specifically for shipping to drought affected farmers at Werris creek, west of Tamworth,” Ms Higginson said. “Normally we wouldn’t have cropped over spring, allowing our rice field to fallow, but with the spring rains we have been able to make this contribution,” She added.

“This is because the Northern Rivers is a place like no other. With rainfall and fertile soil, we are positioned to lead the way. We need more investment and incentives to make the Northern Rivers the food producing capital of the state, including beef, dairy, rice, fruit, nuts as well as fodder and fibre cropping.”

Ms Higginson said “Family farms are the backbone of sustainable agriculture because they are more adaptable and diverse. Successive governments have made the mistake of allowing corporate agribusiness to dominate the industry, with severe impacts on family farmers. Even in my own rice sector we have seen the Nationals grant favours to the corporate rice growers in the Riverina rather than support our own emerging Northern Rivers rice growers. That is what needs to change.”

“There are big challenges ahead with climate change, which farmers are rightly concerned about, but major party politicians are failing them. Farmers have the initiative and insight to adapt and be productive in a changing climate and here in the Northern Rivers we are very fortunate to have the soils and complex rainfall patterns to diversify and give back to the rest of the state.”

“The Greens offer the best way forward on climate change, have been the most active on protecting prime farmland from mining and gas industries, urbanization other threats and most importantly we are not in the pockets of corporate agribusiness like the Nationals and the big parties.”

“Again in my own personal work as an environmental lawyer I have fought the hard cases on behalf of farmers to resist their land being destroyed by big mining, in fact the very farmers I am sending these bales to today at Werris Creek are some of the ones I worked with as a lawyer fighting off a major coal development.”

“So really my message to the Nationals is, I have skin in this game and I have a vision for the future to benefit the whole region.”

I will work with local communities to develop a regional strategic plan for sustainable agriculture to deliver adequate, safe and nutritious food for the region; ensure the well-being of our agricultural communities; a skilled and supported workforce; and provisions to adapt to and mitigate the challenges of climate change.

Our future here is bright, but we need creative policies founded in the grassroots farming community to face the challenges of the future.

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