Growing agriculture grows the state’s economy: NSW Farmers 2018-19 Budget submission

Tackling the rising cost of electricity, delivering better connectivity, protecting our biosecurity and investing in infrastructure are at the heart of NSW Farmers’ 2018-19 Budget submission. 

The submission, released to Government today, calls for the investment of just over $1 billion into rural and regional communities to drive growth in the agriculture sector. 

NSW Farmers’ President, Derek Schoen, said the Budget submission called for the State Government to partner with the sector to ensure farmers across New South Wales were not left behind. 

“With rising costs and increasing competition, primary production across New South Wales is at a tipping point which, if managed well, can set us up for ongoing success and sustained growth.  We can do our bit to make agriculture Australia’s next $100 billion industry,” Mr Schoen said. 

“With the New South Wales Government forecasting budget expenditure of the forward estimates to exceed $300 billion, and budget surpluses forecast to be more than $11 billion over this same period, we believe the time is now right to invest the dividends of prudent budget management in rural and regional New South Wales.” 

Some of the projects recommended by NSW Farmers include: 

  • A $22 million program to deliver affordable and reliable electricity for regional New South Wales;
  • More than $10 million for rural road safety and better road management in addition to a continuation of the highly successful Fixing Country Roads and Fixing Country Rail programs, worth more than $600 million over the forward estimates;
  • $45 million to improve telecommunications reliability and extend the Mobile Black Spot Program;
  • More than $40 million to manage the state’s biosecurity and to grow opportunities for trade and market access;
  • $30 million for three Doppler radars for western New South Wales to improve forecasting;
  • More than $20 million for the Local Land Service to improve services, extension and certainty for farmers;
  • A $13.2 million package to tackle rural crime and farm trespass;
  • Almost $10 million for improved on-farm OH&S;
  • $5 million for an investor-ready prospectus for a Fresh Food Precinct at Western Sydney Airport;
  • $4.6 million to tackle Q fever;
  • $3 million to partner in the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Urban Agrifood;
  • $3 million for a dairy underpasses program; and
  • $1.5 million to investigate a further crossing of the Great Dividing Range between central west New South Wales and the Sydney basin. 

“Agriculture contributes more than $15 billion to the state’s economy annually; according to the Department of Primary Industries, this is a 30 per cent increase since 2013-14.  Across the state, agriculture directly employs more than 77,000 people, accounts for one third of Australia’s farm businesses and 80 per cent of the state’s land mass is devoted to agricultural production,” Mr Schoen said. 

“To ensure our sector can properly contribute toward the aspiration of agriculture as Australia’s next $100 billion industry, we need the Government to make sensible investment now in the tools that will enable our sector to continue to grow in the years ahead. 

“Agriculture cannot afford another ‘business as usual’ budget.  With the state’s agricultural competitiveness slipping by value of agricultural production compared to other states, now is the time to invest in the industry’s ability to grow.

“We will work with the Government, Opposition and minor parties in the State Parliament to achieve as much of our agenda as possible.  With this budget coming just months before the next State election, farmers across the state are looking for a commitment by all politicians that they take agriculture seriously.  This means no more lip service, but tangible investments in the sector to help us grow now and into the future,” Mr Schoen concluded.         

Date:  1 February 2018
Contact:   Kathleen Curry  |  Public Affairs Director | 0429 011 690