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NFF urges Government to remember every cent counts in 2017-2018 Budget

27 April 2017

With less than 15 days until the Federal Budget, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is reminding Treasurer Scott Morrison that every cent counts when it comes to economic settings for the farm sector.

NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the peak farming organisation had issued a broad but sensible Budget wish-list.

“At the centre of our submission is a call for budget repair, the boosting of business confidence and a regulatory environment that supports farmers’ success.”

"Budget repair is not some theoretical concern to food and fibre producers. We need a healthy budget to maintain Australia’s international competitiveness.

"As an export-dependent industry, we can’t afford unnecessary upward pressure on the currency," Mr Mahar said.

The NFF’s wish-list includes a reduction in the tax burden, enhanced labour-market flexibility and infrastructure investment - including in telecommunications and rail.

Specific key asks include a minimum of $1 billion for the Brisbane to Melbourne inland rail project, $60 million for the Mobile Black Spot Programme and the continuation, in perpetuity, of small business asset write-off provisions.

Mr Mahar said the NFF, and its members, had a bold vision for Australian agriculture.

“In 2017-2018, agricultural production is forecast to tip $68.5 billion – the highest ever.

“And we believe there is potential for more growth. By 2030 our goal is for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry.”

Mr Mahar said the Government had a significant role to play in seeing the sector achieve this vision.

“Farmers need a regulatory environment that fosters growth, productivity, innovation and ambition – not impedes it."

He said budget repair was a priority but it must be pursued in a way that fosters growth.

“There must also be measures to boost confidence and provide incentives to work, save and invest,” Mr Mahar said.

“The key message is clear - every cent counts. Whether its money collected through taxes, returns to farmers through trade deals, dollars invested in infrastructure – every cent counts.

"Strategic and forward-thinking economic management is crucial to deliver a more profitable farm sector,” Mr Mahar said.

The National Farmers' Federation's Federal Budget wish-list:

• At least $1 billion, over the forward estimates, for the Brisbane to Melbourne inland rail link.

• A single turnover-based definition for small businesses between $2 million and $10 million (indexed to ensure the threshold maintains relevance over time).

• At least $60 million per annum for the Mobile Black Spot Programme, or equivalent program, which prioritises community-identified areas and open-access facilities.

• Provisions to allow taxpayers to opt back in to primary production averaging after 10 years.

• A minimum of $5 million per annum for a grants program to provide for independent digital technical support and capacity building in rural and remote areas.

• Funding of $290,000 for a Labour Market Needs Analysis and review of the Seasonal Worker Programme, plus $30 million to cover the first year of operation of a revised Seasonal Worker Programme (after which it would be cost neutral).

• Funding to progress the proposed Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) to strengthen the existing in-market Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) by independently auditing the complete livestock export supply chain - including exporters, importers and in-market facilities.

• A re-balancing of the National Landcare Programme that supports industry-led initiatives that deliver better productivity and sustainability outcomes.

• Action to address community concerns about the impact of gas developments on land and water resources, by investing in the science to understand the cumulative impacts of on-shore gas developments.

• Progression of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Agreement, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership plus the pursuit of an ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union and, opportunities for Australia post-Brexit.

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