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Invest in the next boom: invest in food and fibre

14 May 2013

As the nation prepares for today’s Federal Budget, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is urging the Government to continue investing in the future of Australia’s food and fibre sector.

“We already know that today’s Budget will be tough, but it is essential that it is also fair to Australia’s farmers,” NFF President Duncan Fraser said.

“Key to this is ensuring that an already thin agricultural spend is not further pared back, that the commitments already made to the farming sector are honoured, and that the Government strategically invests in the long-term future of Australian agriculture.

“What we’re asking for today, and in the lead up to the Federal Budget, to make agriculture one of Australia’s national priorities. After all, ensuring families across the country have food to eat and fibre to wear is the job of our nation’s farmers, who supply 93 percent of our daily domestic food supply – and do so with the least amount of Government funding of any agricultural sector in the developed world.

“A strong agricultural sector is essential to the Australian community, our economy and our environment – and as such we believe it should be considered an equal priority with education and healthcare. Importantly, we’re not asking for a major slice more of the Federal Budget, but rather strategic policies and decisions to help build a strong and sustainable farming sector into the future.

“Given the Treasurer will today take the extraordinary step of outlining funding for specific policies over a ten year period, we want to see this same long-term focus on the future funding of programs and policies essential to our agricultural sector.

“Today we’re asking the Government to ensure that agricultural funds will not be cut in any of the Government’s austerity measures, and to make sensible investments in farm productivity, education and training and natural resource management.

“We know that if agriculture is going to continue to grow and take advantage of new opportunities, then we must continue to innovate. That’s why we’re asking for a one percent increase in the Government’s spending on agricultural research and development by 2015.

“We have also asked for a Government commitment to drought support in the Federal Budget, and we await further detail of the drought policy package, announced earlier this month, with interest.

“Infrastructure, telecommunications, education, skills and training and key natural resource management programs are also on our list of priorities – as well as ensuring the Government maintains its commitment to its own programs, including the National Food Plan.

“Once again 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 Fraser said.

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