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Agriculture survives tough budget

13 May 2014

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) acknowledges that in a tough budget environment, the Government has largely delivered on its election commitments to the agriculture sector.

NFF President, Mr Brent Finlay, said that measures announced tonight included increases in funding to critical infrastructure projects, commitments to retain the fuel rebate for farmers and stop the water buybacks and ongoing support for the rural research and development corporation model.

“The NFF welcomes the Government’s commitment to developing key infrastructure projects in regional Australia. Given that the money for infrastructure is resulting from a rise in the fuel excise, it is important that this is directed to projects that are most needed, and that regional Australia benefits. If the funding is raised in the bush, it needs to stay in the bush, via a transparent process,” Mr Finlay said.

“In the lead up to the Budget, we fought hard to ensure the rebate to farmers for fuel used off road is in line with excise rises. The Government has listened and responded to industry concerns.

The NFF is pleased to see that the Government has formalised its commitment to implement the Murray Darling Basin Plan by investing in water savings and capping Commonwealth water buybacks to 1,500-gigalitres.

“The NFF acknowledges the confirmation of the Government’s $100 million election commitment to agriculture specific research and development over the next four years. The benefits from agricultural research and development to the Australian community are enormous. We are, however, disappointed to see major cuts to the Cooperative Research Centre Programme and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation,” Mr Finlay said.

The NFF recognises the Federal Government’s commitment to bring the budget back into surplus. We understand this has required difficult decisions, such as significant reductions in Government investment in natural resource management, abolishing the Australia’s Brand for Food Programme, and a reduction in funding for the International Agricultural Cooperation Programme.

“The cuts to, and realignment of, the National Landcare Programme that we saw tonight will limit the ability of farmers to achieve the natural resource goals and expectations of the broader community,” Mr Finlay said.

“The NFF is very disappointed that the Environmental Stewardship Programme has been abolished. This program was public investment for public benefit, and involved long-term investment to improve threatened ecological communities.

“While NFF is disappointed to see the National Water Commission abolished, we look forward to working with the Government to ensure that the Commission’s important role in overseeing national water reform is delivered by an appropriate and independent body,” Mr Finlay said.

The NFF looks forward to sifting through the budget detail with the Government, to ensure a competitive agricultural sector.

Further information on measures outlined in the 2014–15 Budget is available here: www.budget.gov.au

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