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Budget lays groundwork for farm sector growth

3 April 2019

The National Farmers' Federation has applauded the Treasurer for tonight's budget, which sets the stage for agricultural growth while delivering the first surplus in over a decade.

"We have a vision for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030," NFF President Fiona Simson said.

"Achieving this goal requires Government to invest now in the areas identified as crucial to our growth.

"A strong national balance sheet is an important factor in the success of our economy, and we therefore welcome the Budget's return to surplus."

Ms Simson said specifically tonight, the Government continued its support for agriculture's $100 billion future with a series of strategic and practical investments, including:
a $34 million Agriculture Stewardship Package;
increased spending on regional road and telecommunications infrastructure;
initiatives to supercharge trade and access new markets;
an increase in the instant asset write off to $30,000;
an increased primary producer rebate for luxury car tax;
ongoing funding for the ACCC Agriculture Unit;
funding to expand and promote the Seasonal Worker Programme; and,
ongoing funding for drought response and preparedness.

"The Government's commitment of $160 million for a fifth and sixth round of the Mobile Blackspots Program and $60 million to improve the NBN Sky Muster experience will go a long way to providing farmers and all regional Australians with equitable access to connectivity.

"Importantly, for the first time we're seeing a genuine attempt to reward farmers for the environmental outcomes they deliver every day on behalf of all Australians - with a $34 million Agriculture Stewardship Package."

The NFF welcomed $2.9 million to act on recommendations to enhance Australia's world-class rural research and development system, but cautioned against weighing the process down with further bureaucracy.

"The agility of our government-industry R&D partnership must be retained and ideally, improved to allow farmers to adopt new technologies and practices to unlock productivity gains."

Importantly, $29.4 million will go towards creating new market opportunities for Australian farmers – including $11.4 million for Australia's burgeoning horticulture sector to consolidate global demand.

"Australian agriculture exports 70 per cent of what we grow. Our farmers depend on broad, unfettered market access," Ms Simson said.

"We know there are significant opportunities in existing and new markets by understanding and addressing non-tariff barriers and equipping small exporters with the capacity to get their product to market. Funding to allow us to do just this is welcomed."

Ms Simson said the Government had continued its support for farmers as the manage and prepare for drought, with $4.2 million to enhance the National Drought Map and develop drought indicators, plus improvements to the Farm Household Allowance program.

The NFF also welcomed $1.9 million for an analysis of the future farm workforce.

However, not every box has been checked. Notable omissions included genuine action on an Agricultural Visa and a commitment to develop a National Agricultural Strategy.

"Farmers are leaving produce on the vine to rot because they just can't source the workers they need. It's time the Government stopped pontificating on this one and delivered the known solution in the form of an Ag Visa.

"Our labour woes are just one example of where we need a more strategic approach by Government to complement our vision to reach $100 billion by 2030.

"As we head into the Federal Election we need a clear commitment to a National Strategy for Agriculture.

"We look to forward to hearing the view of the Federal Opposition on some of the key planks of tonight's budget.

"We'll be working closely with all sides of politics to ensure the sensible measures contained in tonight's budget survive the coming election," Ms Simson said.

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
P 0408 448 250
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