Federal Budget lays groundwork for farm sector growth

“Back in black” was the phrase that encapsulated last night’s Federal Budget announcements with the Morrison Government delivering the first surplus in more than a decade.

Updated: Friday 5 April with Opposition budget response.

The budget surplus is projected to be $7.1 billion in 2019-20, setting the stage for agriculture’s vision of reaching $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030.

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson said the Budget supported the sectors growth by investing in areas identified as crucial to achieving this vision.

“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,” she said.

Key highlights of the 2019 Budget for the agriculture sector include:

  • A $34 million Agriculture Stewardship Package;
  • An increased spending on regional road and telecommunications infrastructure;
  • Initiatives to supercharge trade and access to new markets;
  • An increase in the instant asset write off to $30,000;
  • An increased primary producer rebate for luxury 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 committed $160 million for a fifth and sixth round of the Mobile Blackspots Program and $60 million to improve the NBN Sky Muster experience, providing farmers and regional Australian’s with equitable connectivity.

Recent recommendations to modernise Australia’s world class rural R&D system will be implementedwith the aid of a $2.9 million.

$1.9 million will be used for analysis of the future farm workforce – falling short of a firmcommitment to a much-needed Agricultural Visa.

$29.4 million will go towards creating new market opportunities for Aussie farmers.

The Morrison Government also recognised Australia’s dealings with drought and natural disasters by committing $4.2 million to enhance the National Drought Map and develop drought indicators, as well as improvements to the Farm Household Allowance program.

An additional $3.9 billion will be used to create the Emergency Response Fund, which will have the capacity to release $150 million per annum to assist with emergency response and rebuilding when natural disasters occur.

However, as noted by the NFF, not every box was checked for agricultures future success. Notable omissions included genuine action on an Agricultural Visa and a comment 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 deliver 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,” Ms Simson said.

The Opposition Government delivered its reply on Thursday night, 4 April, delivering smart investments in regional infrastructure, education and connectivity.

“We’ll be working closely with all sides of politics to ensure the sensible measures contained in the Budget survive the coming election,” Ms Simson said.

CLICK HERE to see the NFF’s response to the Australian Labor Party’s 2019 budget reply.

Andrea Martinello

Andrea Martinello

Andrea is the Community & Engagement Officer at the National Farmers' Federation.

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