EFN Presidents Report 2013

Report date : October 2013

The following report is a summary of recent EFN activity.

I took on the role of president of the EFN the day after the first draft of the draft of the Murray Darling Basin Plan was released (2010). At that time EFN was not a large organisation and its budget was small. Now, three years later, neither of those things have changed and there is little sign that they will.
Making an organisation effective in the face of these constraints has been my main challenge as president. As it happens my career as a farmer has prepared me well for coping with limited resources.

So, the recipe we have used is this:

* Our committee meets periodically via Skype (no cost here)
* We discuss a range of issues and form positions on these issues
* We develop new policies and review existing ones
* We make considered and concise submissions to Federal and State Government enquiries
* We comment publically on contentious issues affecting farmers, farming landscapes and associated biodiversity values
* Activities, policies, submissions, press releases and anything else of interest are posted on our website
* At any one time we try to have an issue or two on which we focus our energy, campaign, with a view to influencing policy
* We meet formally once per year, conduct an AGM and inspect a members sustainable farming business

In order to run effective campaigns we need to:

Choose issues which are: relevant to us, being debated publically, capable of being influenced by our intervention, and which has a champion within our ranks who is well informed and passionate enough to want to pursue it.

In recent years we have usually looked for like minded partner organisations to work with. Quite often we can gain access to research, media, networks, legal advice in exchange for the perspective we can provide and our ability to connect with rural Australia, well, parts of rural Australia.

This recipe has been quite effective at raising our profile and enabling our views to be taken on by policy makers in quite high places.

For example in the past three years EFN has campaigned strongly on the development of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, cattle grazing in alpine national parks and native vegetation protection in Victoria. Outcomes from the first two issues have been very successful, while on native vegetation we are currently in mid-battle and suffering some significant setbacks.

Our immediate issues are overseeing the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and continuing our fight to prevent the current roll-back of native vegetation regulations in Victoria.

Native vegetation regulations are being dramatically weakened in Victoria, but periodically we receive cries of help from NSW and Queensland where the same thing is going on. Right now our battle ground is only in Victoria, because it is only in Victoria where we have people who know the issues, are passionate and willing to carry the baton for EFN.

We encourage members and friends of EFN to raise issues of interest or concern by contacting the Secretary or President so that we can follow up effectively. We need your input, experience and knowledge to promote sustainable farming policies and practices. We have a spread of members across Victoria and southern NSW representing most facets of agriculture at all scales.

In summary EFN is not a large organisation but it is a very effective one that with minimal financial resources has an effective “low environmental footprint” operating mechanism designed to enable maximum member involvement.

So…… if you have read this far, you must be interested, and also you must have staying power. These are both very useful qualities for playing a more active role in EFN. If you would like to be more involved in the activities of EFN, please call either our secretary, Peter Forster (by return email) or me, and we will see whether we can find some harness to fit!

Andrew Bradey
President, EFN
Kowreeftg@bigpond.com

 

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