Fighting for our farmers' future

Tuesday 15 May, 2012

Budget: Surplus achieved, but no long term vision for ag

Last week’s Federal Budget contained both good and bad news for agriculture.

The NFF had called on the Government to deliver two things in the Budget: to ensure funds already committed and promises made were upheld, and to create a platform for future investment in food and fibre.

While agriculture was not completely unscathed, there was some strong commitment to key industry priorities, including:

  • $379.9M over 7 years for the construction and operation of a new Government owned and operated post entry quarantine facility.
  • $95.9M over 7 years to fund eradication programs for nationally significant pests and diseases.
  • $2.2B over 5 years from 2013‑14 for the next phase of the Caring for our Country program.
  • $4.8M in 2012‑13 to improve the Bureau of Meteorology's frontline regional severe weather and flood forecasting capabilities.
  • $37.8M over 4 years to implement reforms to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
  • $150M allocation to the on-farm program from existing unappropriated Water for the Future Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure program funds.
  • $200M over 4 years to pilot a program to integrate water recovery with the strategic reconfiguration of irrigation delivery networks.
  • $77.7M over 4 years for a new grants program to help dentists relocate to regional, rural and remote areas
  • $34.9M to extend the General Practice Rural Incentives Program, assisting GPs to move to and remain in rural and remote communities.

However, on the negative side, the Budget also:

  • Scrapped the FarmReady Program.
  • Scrapped the National weeds & productivity Program.
  • Scrapped components of the Community Networks and Capacity Building Program.
  • NFF understands that Rural Skills Australia’s budget may be subject to a 38 percent cut from 1 July 2012.

In finding additional funding for biosecurity and NRM, the Government has laid a modest foundation – however a truly strong position for agriculture requires more commitment and investment for R&D, infrastructure, improving labour capacity and developing new tools to manage climatic risk. Only this will ensure we can capitalise on the vast opportunities for agriculture. For more, read our release.

Pictured below, NFF President Jock Laurie's doorstop interview with the press gallery at Parliament House on Budget night. Photo courtesy Colin Bettles, Rural Press.

Agriculture misses out on rate cuts: May Monitor

Only one financial institution has made any reduction in interest rates for agribusiness customers over the last month, the NFF Agribusiness Loan Monitor for May has found.

Despite the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reducing the official cash rate down 50 basis points to 3.75 percent earlier this month, only one bank has followed suit: ANZ, with a reduction of 0.60 percent in its term loan rates. However, this has been offset with an increase of 0.60 percent in its rates for overdraft customers.

This is very disappointing news for agribusiness customers, indicating that all the talk in the press about bank responses to the RBAs decision hasn’t translated into positive outcomes for the farming sector. The NFF is calling on financial lenders to pass the full rate cut onto agribusiness customers. For more, read our release or view the May NFF Agribusiness Loan Monitor.

Ag education on the agenda

Three days after the release of the Federal Budget, the Government also confirmed its commitment to the Primary Industries Education Foundation (PIEF), announcing funding of $225,000 over three years.

As a founding partner of PIEF, the NFF lobbied for its continued support in our pre-Budget submission. We’re very pleased to see that the Government has listened to the concerns of industry, and has continued its commitment to this important program. The funding will assist PIEF to progress their work in ensuring agriculture is factored into the national curriculum and to continue developing a suite of educational materials for school children.

Meanwhile, the NFF continues to play an important role in addressing the ever-growing issues of agricultural education, skills, training and labour shortages facing the sector; bringing together all organisations involved in this area, including PIEF, to create a whole of industry approach.

Following a successful Industry Roundtable in February this year, the NFF yesterday hosted the next step in a collaborative solution; an Agricultural Education, Skills and Training working group meeting in Canberra. For more, read our release.

Coming up at NFF.

> Blueprint forum at Parliament House
The NFF will next week host a Blueprint for Australian Agriculture forum at Parliament House in Canberra. The forum is designed to bring together MPs and Senators from across the political spectrum, as well as advisors and media, to have their say on the future of the agricultural sector and to contribute to the development of the Blueprint. For more information, call the NFF on 02 6269 5666.

> FarmDay 2012
A reminder to AGvocate readers: farmers are being sought to host city families on their properties as part of this year’s FarmDay, taking place on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May. The national initiative is designed to give city families interested in learning about farming and life on the land a hands-on, on-farm experience. Farmers interested in hosting a family are encouraged to contact FarmDay on 1300 367 036 or to register via the FarmDay website.

The NFF AGvocate
Issue 16.

In this issue

Budget: Surplus achieved, but no long term vision for ag

Agriculture misses out on rate cuts: May Monitor

Ag education on the agenda

Coming up at NFF.

Blueprint forum at Parliament House

FarmDay 2012

[facebook] [twitter] [youtube]

© National Farmers' Federation Ltd 2012 All rights reserved | Disclaimer
To unsubscribe from the AGvocate, please click here
This email was sent by the National Farmers’ Federation.