Drought and infrastructure commitments stand out for farmers

The NSW Farmers’ Association commends the NSW Government for a budget that has delivered for regional and rural communities, in challenging times due to drought conditions across most of the state.

NSW Farmers’ President Derek Schoen said the Association has worked closely with the government to establish the parameters of the $250 million Farm Innovation Fund.
“The Fund is a welcome and sensible way to assist farmers, regional communities and the broader agricultural sector through this time of drought, while maintaining productivity and sustainability. The availability of $50,000 interest free loans over seven years will provide some financial assistance to farmers, who are trying to navigate their way through these drought conditions,” Mr Schoen said.

NSW Farmers has been advocating for better weather forecasting through the funding of three new Doppler radars. 

“The $24.4m investment in three Doppler radars will enable significantly improved day-to-day on-farm management, and improve farmers’ access to finance and insurance, by reducing risks associated with weather and climate.  

“$40 million to ensure that the Cobb and Silver City Highways are fully sealed is a welcome investment. This work, along with the funding for more overtaking lanes on the Newell Highway will contribute to improved freight productivity. However, the Association will be looking for the Government to do more in coming months to remove pinch-points on major regional roads to increase access by high productivity vehicles across the rural network,” Mr Schoen said. 

The Association has advocated for the following measures, and is pleased to see this budget has delivered on these important issues:
Ongoing commitment to digital connectivity with $20 million for eliminating mobile black-spots, and $9 million for improving digital infrastructure in the bush
Additional commitment to health infrastructure, and community & clinical services, particularly the $40 million for multipurpose service centres 
Continuing and additional funding for the quad bike safety program
Stamp duty exemptions for various forms of cropping insurance

We welcome: 
$50 million for the network of  research stations
LLS Budget increase, meaning more money for supporting farming communities
Increasing the threshold for payroll tax rebates ($87m) via the Small Business Employment Incentive Scheme (750k up to $1m)
$23.2 million to fund water management reforms
$44.7 million for regional industry education partnerships
$7 million for local councils for crown land management
$4 million for the “one click energy switch” program

What we look forward to:

“The Association will look towards the LLS and DPI to ensure that resources are allocated to the rollout of the new biosecurity regime, which brings significant changes to the roles and responsibilities of landowners and farmers. 

“The proposed Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund ($4.154 Billion) provides an opportunity to deliver a big vision for agriculture and regional NSW. This could provide the catalyst of creating internationally competitive freight and logistics networks that will link food producing regions to ports and markets that reside in urban settings reliably and cost-effectively. 

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to digital and mobile connectivity, and seeks their commitment to universal access to 3G and 4G networks. 

“The investments and funding commitments contained in this Budget represent a down-payment in the further growth of the agriculture sector going forward.  As we approach next March’s state election, we call for our state’s political parties to FOCUS on agriculture, partnering with the sector to commit to investments which will deliver the necessary roadmap to grow the value of agriculture to $100 billion by 2030,” Mr Schoen concluded.

Date: Tuesday 19 June 2018
Media Contact:   Kathleen Curry  |  Public Affairs Director | 0429 011 690


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