Still fighting for farmers

The AFFF supports farmers in their fight against unfair and unwarranted barriers to the development of sustainable farming practises and vibrant regional communities.

In the 1980s, farmers were concerned that union intransigence and rigidity, as exemplified by the Mudginberri dispute, threatened the future of Australian agriculture and industry productivity in general.

Mudgenberri presented the opportunity for the National Farmers' Federation (NFF), with AFFF support, to challenge and defeat the old, inward looking standards that had long passed their used by date.

However, creating new standards is an expensive proposition.

In 1985, the AFFF was formed, forged in the industrial battlefield of Mudgenberri and backed by a rally of 45,000 farmers in Canberra in July to protest the impact of high taxes and escalating interest rates on rural business.

The birth of the AFFF: 45,000 farmers converge on Parliament House, Canberra, in 1985, 'putting their hands in their pockets' for the cause.

The formation of the AFFF was the right idea at the right time in Australian history.

It won instant support from farmers and raised millions of dollars. Half the money raised was donated by non-farming businesses that supported the NFF's challenge to injustices.

Those funds are still working for Australian farmers today, fighting issues that would set disturbing precedents for farmers, regional communities and Australia as a whole.


The AFFF operates separately from the NFF. It is controlled by its own Board of Trustees, including three independent trustees.

The Trustees of the AFFF are:

  • Mr Hugh Nivison, Chairman;
  • Mr Donald McGauchie AO
  • Mr Peter Reith;
  • Mr Brent Finlay;
  • Mr Duncan Fraser;
  • Ms Fiona Simson; and
  • Mr Tony Mahar.

Who qualifies for AFFF support?

To qualify for funding from the AFFF, an applicant must be a farmer facing a nationally significant and, if possible, precedent setting case.

That does not mean applications have to be about matters that are grand or even newsworthy.

In fact, much of the legal work to ensure precedents that protect farm interests are often away from the public spotlight.

Today, the AFFF is financially strong and secure.

Since 1985, it has financially backed over 100 cases, resulting in significant wins for Australian farmers.

In many cases, without AFFF support the parties involved simply would not have access to the practical support or fund pool to pursue legal avenues.

Matters pursued by the AFFF reflect the challenges facing farmers today, and over the years have involved legal battles over:

  • Decisions of federal and State Governments,
  • workplace relations,
  • animal activism,
  • mining rights,
  • farm finance and debt.

The AFFF also engages in long-term project work on competition policy and trade practices.

In tough economic times, farmers are increasingly faced with issues that threaten the farming way of life. These include limits on land and water use, unreasonable intrusion onto private property and market power imbalances that cut prices at farm gate.

How to apply

Application Process & Protocols
The following guidelines have been produced to assist those wishing to apply for the AFFF funding. 

  1. The protocol, as stipulated by AFFF Trustees, directs that any proposal shall, in the first instance, be processed and submitted through a member organisation of the NFF or one of the NFF's policy committees.
  2. All applications must be considered by the NFF Members' Council and carry their recommendation before submission to Trustees.
  3. That in considering whether the matter warrants consideration by the Trust, NFF member organisations and the NFF Members' Council should apply the following criteria:
    1. Whether the successful pursuit of the issue will result in national precedent; and
    2. Whether the matter is in the interests of rural Australia.

Guidelines for AFFF Project Management
The following Guidelines apply to the management of AFFF projects.

  1. The NFF Members' Council is required to consider the application. If an application receives the support of the NFF Members' Council, the application, including full supporting information, is then referred to the AFFF.
  2. The AFFF Secretary will seek any further information, if required, before it is considered by the AFFF Trustees.
  3. The AFFF Trustees will consider the application and will approve the application, reject the application or approve in principle.
  4. If an application is approved in principle it is likely that the AFFF will seek independent legal advice on the matter prior to making a final decision.
  5. If approval is gained, the applicant will be required to sign a funding agreement and the matter will be overseen by the AFFF Secretary.