Last night’s Federal Budget has delivered a shot in the arm for agriculture and regional Australia with welcomed investment in biosecurity, infrastructure, trade, telecommunications, climate change adaptation and health services.
NFF President Fiona Simson said the 2021-2022 Budget papers specifically referenced the NFF-led goal for agriculture to be Australia’s next $100 billion industry by 2030 and outlined spending initiatives that would provide tangible, on the ground benefits to farmers and bush communities.
“This Budget has delivered more than $5 billion investment in freight and regional roads across every state and territory, including upgrades Queensland’s Bruce Highway, the Northern Territory’s National Network Highway, South Australia’s August Highway and Tasmania’s Midland Highway.”
The NFF has been critical of the massive underspend in the infrastructure portfolio.
“These projects will go a long way to addressing NFF’s previously highlighted concerns with the $1.3 billion annual gap in regional infrastructure spending. The cost of getting produce from farm to market is one of farmers’ largest cost imposts and a key determinant of our ability to compete on the world stage. Work must commence on these infrastructure projects as soon as possible,” Ms Simson said.
Ms Simson said the NFF welcomed $29 million for a strengthened and more coordinated approach to feral animal control. “This is in addition to the $371 million over four years announced last week to expand and modernise an ailing biosecurity system, exceeding the NFF’s ask of $400 million.”
Ms Simson said farmers had called on Government to invest in the development of a long-term trade strategy that consolidated and diversified agriculture’s export market base.
“Tonight, we’ve seen $213 million for trade including the enhanced representation and promotion of Australia’s interests through the WTO and the establishment of a new international agriculture envoy program to protect agriculture’s export interests.”
Ms Simson said climate change was both an enormous challenge and opportunity for farmers. “Farmers are poised to continue to lead the nation in its reduced emissions future. The $237.9 million to help farmers better understand and manage their soils across a number of portfolio and priority areas acknowledges the importance of gaining a better understanding of soil carbon measurement and planning.
“The NFF also welcomes the $209.7 million for enhanced climate services which will go a long way to securing resilience and preparedness through more granular climate and weather data and forecasting.”
For more information: nff.org.au