Western Victorian grain and livestock producer David Jochinke has taken the top job at the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), succeeding Fiona Simson who has stepped down after seven years in the role.
- Wimmera farmer David Jochinke has been elected National Farmers’ Federation president
- He will take over from Fiona Simson, who has been in the role for seven years
- The outgoing head of the NFF has accused the federal government of prioritising factions in agricultural policy decisions
The Wimmera farmer was the former president of the Victorian Farmers Federation and had served as the NFF vice-president since 2017.
“It’s a great honour to have represented Victoria and also now to step up to national level … but there’s a lot of work to be done,” Mr Jochinke said.
Mr Jochinke said he would like to continue making sure farmers were front and centre in conversation at parliament.
“Both from the production side of things and legislation,” he said.
“What we’ve seen lately is a raft of legislation coming through that is compounding the issues that agriculture is facing.
“We had stability for a period, but it’s now making farmers reassess and question how they want to participate in the industry.”
A long journey
Mr Jochinke said it had been a long journey to get to where he is today.
“As soon as I finished school my father got very crook … I basically closed my books at high school and took over the farm,” he said.
“Any mistakes I’ve made have been my own, and I’ve always been wanting to make sure I’ve lived out the morals that my grandpa instilled in me about community.
“He said, ‘You should be the community you want to live in’.”
Since then, Mr Jochinke said he had always worked hard to do anything that promoted people and agriculture.
“That led me to go into my first VFF district council meeting, of which I came back as the secretary treasurer, because I had a bit of spunk I believe,” he said.
Legacy of unity
He said the outgoing president, Ms Simson, had left a huge legacy of unity within the sector.
“She’s also really engaged the wider community, really tried to ensure we’re engaging on issues that traditionally that may not have been front and centre,” he said.
“Like climate change, housing, making sure they are a part of our dialogue … they do affect us and can have a huge influence on the success of their operations.”
Outgoing president fires parting shots
Ms Simson has accused the federal government of prioritising factions in relation to agricultural policy.
In her final speech as leader at the National Press Club yesterday, Ms Simson slammed Labor for its decision to phase out live sheep exports, and for opening the door to water buybacks under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
She suggested some of Labor’s policies were being driven by internal politics, to the detriment of farmers.
“History will not judge this government kindly if it continues to prosecute an agenda focused more on satisfying factions than facts,” she told the press club.
Ms Simson served seven years at the helm of the nation’s farm lobby group.
West Australia farmer John Hassall was elected NFF vice president unopposed, while Queensland cotton producer Hamish McIntyre was elected to the board.
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