NORTH Coast primary producers should have a sympathetic ear in Canberra with the appointment of Bellingen born and raised Joel Fitzgibbon as the new Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Mr Fitzgibbon was born in Bellingen and his electorate of Hunter includes the towns of Aberdeen, Cessnock, Murrurundi, Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton.
The National Farmers Federation has welcomed Mr Fitzgibbon's appointment, with CEO Matt Linnegar saying it was positive to see an MP with a regional background heading the portfolio.
"While his electorate is perhaps best known for its horse studs and mining developments, it is also an agricultural region, particularly dairy, horticulture, cereal crops, wool, beef, lambs and pigs," Mr Linnegar said.
"I believe farmers across the country will be pleased to see that their new agriculture minister has this rural reach, as well as some 17 years experience as an MP.
Mr Linnegar said the NFF was keen to meet with Mr Fitzgibbon as soon as possible to discuss some of the issues facing Australian agriculture.
"These include the implementation of the Farm Finance package, which is still awaiting state and territory approval - and, in conjunction with the new Trade Minister Richard Marles, the finalisation of the China, Japan and Korea free trade agreements," he said.
"As Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in his press conference last week, the China FTA is currently moving at the pace of a 'lame camel'."
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