Australian Organic attended the Agricultural Industry Budget Breakfast this morning in Canberra, hosted by Croplife Australia post last night’s delivery of the 2019 Federal Budget.
“Whilst we are seeing a peak interest in all things food, it is matched by a peak ignorance of all things agricultural,” said Matthew Cossey, CEO of CropLife Australia in his address.
Australian Organic Chairman, Martin Meek said, “I thought this was an excellent reference of the disconnect between our food and our producers.”
David Littleproud, the Minister for the Department of Agriculture & Water Resources, spoke of his platform to “Bring our young people home”, by increasing interest and employment opportunities in regional and farming communities.
The Budget specifically affecting the Agriculture sector revealed:
- a $34 million Agriculture Stewardship Package;
- increased spending on regional road and telecommunications infrastructure;
- initiatives to supercharge trade and access new markets;
- an increase in the instant asset write off to $30,000;
- an increased primary producer rebate for luxury car 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.
Last month Australian Organic became a member of the National Farmers Federation (NFF) who also attended last night’s Budget,
“The Government’s commitment of $160 million for a fifth and sixth round of the Mobile Blackspots Program and $60 million to improve the NBN Sky Muster experience will go a long way to providing farmers and all regional Australians with equitable access to connectivity”, NFF President Fiona Simson said.
“Importantly, for the first time we’re seeing a genuine attempt to reward farmers for the environmental outcomes they deliver every day on behalf of all Australians – with a $34 million Agriculture Stewardship Package.”
Importantly, $29.4 million will go towards creating new market opportunities for Australian farmers – including $11.4 million for Australia’s burgeoning horticulture sector to consolidate global demand.
“Australian agriculture exports 70 per cent of what we grow. Our farmers depend on broad, unfettered market access,” Ms Simson said.
Ms Simson said the Government had continued its support for farmers as they manage and prepare for drought, with $4.2 million to enhance the National Drought Map and develop drought indicators, plus improvements to the Farm Household Allowance program.
Australian Organic and NFF also welcome the $1.9 million for an analysis of the future farm workforce.
However, not every box has been checked. Notable omissions included genuine action on an Agricultural Visa and a commitment 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 is time the Government stopped pontificating on this one and delivered the known solution in the form of an Ag Visa.
“We’ll be working closely with all sides of politics to ensure the sensible measures contained in tonight’s budget survive the coming election,” Ms Simson said.