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Invest in food and fibre, Mr Treasurer

7 May 2012

As the nation prepares for today’s Federal Budget, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is urging the Government to continue investing in Australian agriculture.

NFF President Jock Laurie said now is not the time for the Government to be cutting back its agricultural spend, but rather investing for future opportunities.

“Just last week, the Prime Minister said that Australia must be ready to act to as the food bowl of Asia. Today, on Budget day, we urge the Government to act on this by strategically investing in our agricultural sector,” Mr Laurie said.

“Today the Federal Government will bring the Budget back into surplus. We know that tough decisions have been made and that cuts will be realised - but this does not mean neglecting key opportunities to invest in growth sectors of the Australian economy, like agriculture.

“There are huge opportunities for Australian agriculture; now is the time to realise them. Today, we call on the Government to sure up its support for our sector.

“Biosecurity and drought policy are two of our key priority areas for this year’s Budget. We want to see the Government lock in its commitment to funding the biosecurity recommendations from the Beale Review, and to work closely with the NFF in developing an alternative drought scheme over the coming months.

“We note that a new $379 million quarantine facility in Melbourne is being reported this morning – we will be seeking confirmation of this from the Government. If this is accurate, then it is very good news for agriculture in a Budget where the good news stories are expected to be few and far between.

“Regarding drought policy, we have already expressed our disappointment that interest rate subsidies for drought affected farmers have been cut without a suitable alternative in place.

“Infrastructure and research and development are another two key focuses for the NFF: we have called on the Government to guarantee that the remaining Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program funds are tagged for on-farm infrastructure works and measures to help contribute to the water savings programs.

“And we are seeking the Government’s full commitment to enhancing rural research and development to help us grow more food and fibre, in the face of growing competition for land, water and labour.

“Finally, we have been very vocal about our support for the fuel tax credit scheme for farmers - today, we will be watching to ensure that this isn’t cut.

“This year, for the NFF and for agriculture, it’s about ensuring that funds already committed, and promises made, are upheld by the Government - and that a platform is created for future investment in our food and fibre sectors,” Mr Laurie said.

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