The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) is an Australian non-profit membership–based organization that represents farmers and the agricultural sector in Australia.[1] Historically, NFF was a key player in a number of industrial relations disputes, including Australia's infamous waterfront dispute; the shearing wide comb dispute; and the Mudginberri dispute.

The current president of the National Farmers' Federation is Fiona Simson since November 2016; the organisation's chief executive officer is Tony Mahar, since April 2016.

Key policy priorities

The NFF's key policy areas include farm business and productivity; access to markets; digital connectivity; natural resource management; biosecurity, health and welfare; education and training; and workplace relations.[2] The NFF has been involved in a number of major policy debates in Australia, including most recently, the backpacker tax, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, carbon tax, foreign investment, drought policy reform and livestock exports.

In February 2013, the NFF released the first Blueprint for Australian Agriculture. The blueprint is a strategic plan for the Australian agricultural sector and its supply chain, setting out its future direction. The blueprint is the first cross-industry plan for the sector, developed by the sector. In 2013, the NFF moved into the legacy phase of the blueprint: turning the blueprint document into action. The blueprint was developed with the support of Westpac, Woolworths and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, with Westpac and Woolworths continuing their support into the legacy phase, along with new partners Bayer and Syngenta Australia.[3]

In December 2015 the National Farmers Federation launched a new program to use digital technology to improve agricultural efficiency. The program comprises three components:[4][5]

  • An online platform that will provide "a single source for ... food and agribusiness news ... weather and market information, blogs, commentary" as well as "a stronger more unified public voice",[4] scheduled to be available in May 2016[5]
  • The National Farmers' Digital Agriculture Service, an online service for data collation[6]
  • Sprout, an incubator program to identify and support new ideas in agribusiness developed in partnership with financial services group Findex[4][5]


The NFF was formed in 1979. NFF policy is set by the NFF Members' Council, which comprises the presidents of the NFF's 31–member organizations[7]

NFF's members are the state-level farmers' organizations, national commodity councils, and other affiliated members. According to the NFF charter, state-level farmers' organizations represent the interests of the agricultural sector in their respective states. Issues related to individual commodities or interstate/national farming concerns are represented by relevant national commodity councils. The NFF focuses on those policy issues that affect all farmers, regardless of location or commodity. These include such issues as farm business and productivity, access to markets, natural resource management, biosecurity, animal health and welfare, education and training and workplace relations.[8]

NFF membership

The NFF's 31–member organizations are:

Office bearers


The following people have served as president of the National Farmers' Federation:

Name Term start Term end Term of office
Sir Donald Eckersley OBE 1979 1981 1–2 years
Michael Davidson OBE 1981 1984 2–3 years
Hon. Ian McLachlan AO 1984 1988 3–4 years
John Allwright AO 1988 1991 2–3 years
Graham Blight 1991 1994 2–3 years
Donald McGauchie AO 1994 1998 3–4 years
Ian Donges 1998 2002 3–4 years
Peter Corish 2002 2006 3–4 years
David Crombie 2006 2010 3–4 years
Jock Laurie 2010 2013 2–3 years
Duncan Fraser April 2013 November 2013 0 years
Brent Finlay[10] 2013 2016 3 years
Fiona Simpson[11] 2016 present current

Chief executive officer

The following people have served as chief executive officer, or another appropriate title, of the National Farmers' Federation:

Name Term start Term end Term of office Title of office
John Whitelaw 1979 1985 5–6 years Executive director
Andrew Robb AO 1985 1988 2–3 years
Rick Farley 1988 1995 6–7 years
Wendy Craik 1995 2000 4–5 years
Anna Cronin 2000 2005 4–5 years Executive director/chief executive officer
Ben Fargher 2005 2011 5–6 years Chief executive officer
Matt Linnegar 2011 2014 2–3 years
Simon Talbot[12] 2014 2016 1–2 years
Tony Mahar 2016 present 1–2 years

Award of Honour

The NFF Award of Honour recognizes people who have made an important contribution to the NFF and the farming sector. These include:[13]

Name Year awarded
Bill de Vos AM 1987
Jim Tehan AM 1988
David Partridge 1990
Roy Smith 1993
John Mackenzie 1999
Alick Lascelles 2000
Graham Blight 2002
Hon. Ian McLachlan AO 2004
Geoffrey Crick 2009
John Underwood
Alex Arbuthnot AM 2012

NFF Congress

The NFF has run its National Congress four times, in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014. The two first Congresses focused on modern farming, and adapting to the changing agriculture environment. In 2012, the Congress was around understanding, and capitalizing on, the food and fibre boom. The theme for the 2014 Congress was 'Producing Our Future'.[14]

The next Congress will be held in 2016.

Australian Farmers' Fighting Fund

The Australian Farmers' Fighting Fund was created in 1985 to provide financial, legal and professional assistance to farmers. The fund was created out of Mudgenberri dispute in 1985, funded in part by farmers and in part by non-farming businesses. The AFFF is governed independently of the NFF, and is controlled by a board of trustees, three of which are independent trustees.

The current trustees are Hugh Nivison (chairman); Peter Reith; Donald McGauchie AO; Brent Finlay; Duncan Fraser; Fiona Simson; and Tony Mahar.

See also


  1. ^ "National Farmers' Federation". National Farmers' Federation. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Policy & Issues". National Farmers' Federation. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Blueprint for Australian Agriculture". National Farmers' Federation. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "NFF Digital Transformation". National Farmers' Federation. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  5. ^ a b c "Prime Minister Turnbull announces new initiatives to revolutionise agriculture". National Farmers' Federation. 2015-12-14. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  6. ^ "PM announces digital farming initiatives". Sky News. 2015-12-12. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  7. ^ Internet, Chirp. "Our Members National Farmers' Federation". www.nff.org.au. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  8. ^ "About NFF". National Farmers' Federation. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Membership of National Farmers' Federation". About us. WoolProducers Australia. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  10. ^ Internet, Chirp. "Brent Finlay re-elected as NFF President < Latest News National Farmers' Federation". www.nff.org.au. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  11. ^ Internet, Chirp. "NFF Board National Farmers' Federation". www.nff.org.au. Retrieved 2017-10-24. 
  12. ^ Internet, Chirp. "NFF welcomes new CEO Simon Talbot < Media Releases National Farmers' Federation". www.nff.org.au. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  13. ^ "Members' Council". National Farmers' Federation. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "National Farmers' Federation 2012 National Congress". National Farmers' Federation. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 

External links