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Ag minister fronts farmers

Melissa Hamling, Tuesday July 16, 2013 - 07:28 EST
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Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon - ABC

Farmers attending the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days have been told they need to find niche markets to capitalise on the demand for produce and livestock from China.

The new Federal Agriculture Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, fronted a public session at the event and told famers the opportunity is now for the region's producers to help supply the emerging Chinese middle class.

Mr Fitzgibbon says the government wants to help market what the nation's farmers have to offer.

"This is Australia's great opportunity and of course like all of our sectors we, and as we always have been, we need to be innovators, we need to add value to our product," he said.

"Of course we need to find niche markets and Australian producers I think are very good at doing all of those things."

Mr Fitzgibbon has told farmers the new national drought reform policy is expected to be in place for local farmers by next July.

He says the plan will better help manage the sector's tough times and it has been trialled in Western Australia with good results.

Mr Fitzgibbon says the government now understands drought policies do not work by drawing lines on maps.

"These policies always have to be largely focussed on helping farmers better manage for drought and prepare for drought.

"Of course we've just made more generous the farm management deposit scheme too which is a great way of making sure that money's tucked away in the good times so that the money's there in the tougher times."


© ABC 2013

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