Mullaley grain farmer Xavier Martin is the new leader of the nation’s largest state farming organisation, NSW Farmers, taking over from outgoing president and Guyra district farmer and grazier, James Jackson.
Mr Martin, who previously held the position of vice president, was elected to the top job on the first day of the organisation’s annual conference.
Former NSW Farmers treasurer and Moree farmer Rebecca Reardon was elected unopposed as vice president, with Trangie farmer Peter Neil Wilson taking over the treasurer role.
Mr Martin thanked members for their support and said he looked forward to continuing the strong reputation of NSW Farmers.
“It’s humbling to be elected president and I look forward to maintaining the momentum on key issues such as biosecurity and productivity,” Mr Martin said.
“We are looking at ways to secure the future of farming, and a big part of that is giving members their voice at our conference.
“I look forward to seeing the result of these motions and working on progressing those issues with decision makers and industry groups.”
During his term as vice president Mr Martin spearheaded efforts to secure government support during the mouse plague and was a passionate advocate for improving the efficiency of rail and port logistics in New South Wales.
The leadership handover comes at a crossroads for the NSW agricultural industry, with natural disasters, supply chain issues and biosecurity concerns threatening to make a permanent mark on the sector.
As outgoing president, Mr Jackson said he was aware of the challenges agriculture faces but is positive about the future of the industry.
He said more government and public support is vital to “unleash the beast” and enable farmers to continue to produce world-class food and fibre.
“Australia as a nation lags behind on backing farmers, with a government paper on food security this week revealing we have one of the lowest levels of agricultural support across the 37 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries – and when compared to major emerging economies,” Mr Jackson said.
“Australians have seen firsthand the impact of natural disasters and supply chain failures on food security this year, and we need a fresh focus on farming.
“Our farmers grow the food we eat every day and produce cotton and wool to clothe us, yet we as a nation are still undervaluing the important role of agriculture.”
Overall, Mr Jackson said he was heartened by positive policy developments over the past few years.
“We’ve worked hard to get some key wins in securing farmers against trespassing activists, natural disaster support, coastal harvestable rights, and recently with the state’s boost to biosecurity funding,” he said.
“Quite often the wins are small and incremental, but we’re moving the needle on important policies and making things better for farmers bit by bit.
“People are starting to take notice, too, with our full primary producer membership increasing over recent years despite consolidation reducing the number of farms out there.”