Practical policy delivering for unstoppable ag sector

Practical policy delivering for unstoppable ag sector

The Federal Government has been ‘whipping’ through the delivery of its commitments in agriculture and water resources, with agriculture growing faster than any other sector, at 15%, in the 12 months to the March 2017 quarter.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce said agriculture’s continued strong performance was backed by solid policy initiatives to deliver money back through the farm-gate, while also supporting those doing it tough. Many of these policy initiatives came from the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

“We saw a record set for the gross value of farm production, increasing to a massive $62.8 billion in 2016-17, up from $48.7 billion when we came to government,” Mr Joyce said.

“The agriculture sector grew the fastest amongst all industries in the March 2017 quarter, 15 per cent year on year. No other sector was in cooee of agriculture.

“I recently introduced legislation to establish a $4 billion Regional Investment Corporation (RIC), to be based in Orange, NSW, as part of our commitment to support farmers and bring more jobs, services and opportunities to regional Australia,” Mr Joyce said.

“The RIC will deliver the Government’s $2 billion farm business concessional loans and the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility, and help Orange grow into a centre of agri-finance excellence.”

Mr Joyce said the Government is taking a national approach to water policy delivering the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility, which opened for business on 8 February 2017.

“We are committed to building dams, with a key commitment of $130 million to build Rookwood Weir near Rockhampton; a nationally significant investment that would create over 2000 jobs, increase agricultural production by over $1 billion and secure water supplies for Rockhampton and Gladstone,” Mr Joyce said.

“Other water infrastructure commitments include Dungowan Dam, NSW ($75 million); the South West Loddon Pipeline, VIC ($20 million); the Macalister Irrigation District, VIC ($20 million) and the Tasmanian Irrigation Tranche 2 programme, TAS ($60 million).”

In March 2017 the Minister signed a joint agreement with China to deliver improved export opportunities and market access for Australian chilled meat, which industry has estimated could be worth more than $400 million per year to Australia’s domestic meat processing industry.

This builds on the tariff reductions under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

On 5 April 2017 the new mandatory sugar code of conduct came into effect to support cane growers dealing with sugar cane mills on a level playing field.

The new code guarantees a grower’s choice in marketer as well as providing pre-contract arbitration between mill owners and marketers, and between cane growers and mill owners if an agreement cannot be reached.

The Government has invested more than $5 million in Wild Dog Action Plans, and over the last two years contributed over $13 million to construct almost 4,500 kilometres of dog-proof fencing.

The fencing is vital in protecting stock, such as sheep, from wild dog attacks, to increase farm productivity and lambing rates.

Mr Joyce announced eligibility for the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme will be extended in 2017-18 to Farm Household Allowance recipients coming off the allowance; the Government recognises some farmers may need further assistance to achieve their farm business plans.

The Government has committed more than $1 billion over 5 years to the new National Landcare Program.

This program highlights the importance of sustainable and effective land management which underpins our valuable and world-class agricultural industries.

Mr Joyce said in order to protect our valuable agricultural industries the Government has delivered the most comprehensive overhaul of national biosecurity in more than a century.

“The unprecedented investment we are making in biosecurity, reaching $752.7 million in 2017-18, compared with $603.4 million in 2012-13, complements the new legislation the Government has delivered,” Mr Joyce said.

“Agriculture is a central pillar of the Australian economy and the Government will continue to roll out pragmatic and effective policies and programs to support its growth.”

Source: Australian Government