8 April 2022
The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) is calling on the Federal Government to reconsider its definition of primary producers under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). This follows devastating flooding in Queensland and New South Wales, where AFSA farmer members have sought critical assistance under the DRFA, only to be rejected by state governments responsible for processing claims.
AFSA Vice-President Nick Holliday, and his partner Brydie Holliday, submitted a claim for $14,500 in financial assistance under the DRFA to repair flood damage to a road, fencing and other key infrastructure on their property at Belvedere Farm. Initially, their claim was rejected on the grounds that they do not meet the Government’s definition of a primary producer.
“We work 100 hours a week at Belvedere Farm, producing pork, beef and eggs for over 20 families through community supported agriculture. These families rely on us to provide them with high-quality, ethically made produce, so to learn that the Government does not consider us farmers during a time when we need critical support was outrageous,” says Nick Holliday.
Being employed in off-farm activities has been cited as a key reason for rejection under the DRFA. Considering that on average, Australian farmers attribute 14 per cent of their total annual income to off-farm employment, AFSA argues that such reasoning is an oversight from the policymakers responsible for setting the rules under the DRFA. After lobbying Federal and State Government through their #NotAFarmer campaign, Nick and Brydie have won their appeal and will rightly receive recovery funding from the Government.
However, AFSA President, Tammi Jonas, believes there is more work to be done to ensure that all smallholders, whose rights are enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), have access to critical funding from governments.
“In times of increasing challenges to food security, we argue that smallholders are the most stable, consistent primary producers in Australia, ensuring local communities continue to have access to healthy and diverse food sources. Supply chain disruption as a result of COVID-19, climate change and conflict in Ukraine has left supermarket shelves bare and led to huge increases to the cost of food for disadvantaged people. In spite of these challenges, it has been smallholders who have been able to effectively provide local communities with access to affordable, high-quality produce,” says Jonas.
AFSA has sent a letter to the Federal Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, calling for urgent action to recognise smallholders under the DRFA. We have asked that the Federal Government:
- Reconsiders its definition of primary producers as outlined in the DRFA to ensure it includes smallholders and other independent producers;
- Works with state governments to ensure this definition is uniformly applied across state and territory jurisdictions;
- Reassess or prioritise appeals for rejected claims from smallholders and other producers under a revised definition of primary producers.
“Just as we show up for communities in times of crisis, we ask that Government shows up for us when we need it most,” says Nick Holliday.
Minister Littleproud is yet to respond to AFSA’s letter, which invites further discussion on the matter with its National Committee, members and allies.
Contact: Tammi Jonas, AFSA President
m: 0422 429 362
Nick Holliday, AFSA Vice-President
m: 0427 711 020