Barnaby's focus on farm gate returns welcomed

NSW Farmers welcomed the federal government’s focus on future proofing Australia’s agriculture sector with the release of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper today.

The paper features initiatives that will lower the cost base, boost productivity and provide higher returns at the farm gate for producers.

NSW Farmers was particularly pleased a new agricultural commissioner will be appointed to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Association President Fiona Simson said: “We have been lobbying the government to provide the ACCC with greater expertise in the agricultural sector and this is a big win.”

She said industry also welcomed the continued long-term focus on drought assistance provided by the $2.75 billion of transitional loans for drought-affected farmers over the coming 10 years.

“This provides policy certainty for primary producers who put their businesses on the climatic front line every year,” Ms Simson said.

NSW Farmers was encouraged the terms of additional loans had not yet been finalised but that government would negotiate these with industry.

Additionally, grants to support the uptake of multi-peril crop insurance were positive and added to options for farmers to draw on to mitigate drought risk.

The additional $22.8 million for Rural Financial Counselling Services to improve case management and help with transition plans in the final year of eligibility is a positive commitment. The $35 million previously announced for community infrastructure projects recognised the personal and community stress drought brought and would help reinforce the resilience rural communities are renowned for.

Ms Simson praised the white paper’s drought preparedness measures, including the ability for Farm Management Deposits to be used as offset loans, estimated to save farmers up to $150 million.

“This is clever policy that will encourage good risk management,” she said.

A commitment of $50 million for better pest animal and weed control measures was good news as were measures to encourage farmers to work together for scale such as $13.8 million for a pilot program to assist them to develop alternative business models such as cooperatives, collective bargaining and innovative models.

The white paper’s commitment to invest $500 million to future proof water infrastructure was also applauded as was the reservation of $50 million to undertake detailed planning to ensure this historic investment was not wasted. 

NSW Farmers is keen to engage with this process to ensure funds are spent on tangible water infrastructure assets that will benefit the farming community for decades to come.

Ms Simson said: “An additional $200 million over 4 years for biosecurity will underpin security of market access for our products and is an important mechanism to balance free trade agreements which are the platform for market access.”

“There has never been a better time to be in agriculture and we congratulate the government and the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce for recognising the value of agriculture to the Australian economy.

“People will always need to eat. Food is the future and agriculture is the enabler,” she concluded.

ends

4 July 2015

Contact: Justin Crosby

Phone: 1300 794 000

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