National Farmers' Federation

Budget must hold the key to continue growing and protecting agriculture

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) wants to see the Federal Government deliver on its pre-election commitment for sustainable, long-term biosecurity funding in the Budget to be handed down on October 25.

NFF President Fiona Simson said the 43 recommendations in the peak farming body’s Pre-Budget Submission were built around its 2030 Roadmap and high on the list was the missing link in Australia’s defence against looming and existing biosecurity threats like Foot and Mouth Disease, Lumpy Skin Disease and Varroa Mite.

“This was a pre-election commitment and the National Biosecurity Strategy has delivered the vision and the framework to resource our biosecurity system now and into the future.

“Recent discussions between the NFF and the government on biosecurity funding have been positive, and the Budget is the time to follow through. We can’t wait any longer.”

Fresh from attending the Jobs and Skills Summit, Ms Simson said agriculture’s worker crisis had been brought to national leaders’ attention, but there was more work to be done.

“There are about 85,000 farm businesses in Australia and a most of them are run by families who are under increasing pressure for want of workers. It’s a problem choking production, which is being felt from the paddock right through the supply chain, and ultimately Australians are paying more at the checkout.

“This Budget is the chance to ease this pressure, and our submission includes practical solutions, including increasing training opportunities to upskill workers and reflect the dynamic changes in an industry embracing technology.”

Keeping pace with climate change and environmental pressures were also key in the NFF’s submission.

“Promoting the sustainability of Australian agriculture especially focusing on the natural environment are critical to agriculture’s future and the NFF is committed to working with the government to develop opportunities to value natural capital inside the farm gate.”

Ms Simson said the time is right to put serious dollars behind these solutions and turbocharge regional Australia’s productivity.

“Securing our biosecurity, our natural environment and our workforce is critical if we’re to reach our goal of being Australia’s next $100 billion industry by 2030.

“The transition to net-zero will disproportionately impact regional and rural Australia both in terms of opportunities and challenges, and there is a central role for government to make the most of this transition.

“We understand many of the funds established to help rural and regional Australia through this transition are being earmarked for the chopping block. We hope there are alternate plans to help with this transition, as opposed to leaving these communities with all the costs for the transition.”

Key recommendations

BIOSECURITY: Long-term sustainable, renewable funding for biosecurity.
BIOSECURITY: Deliver the $20.1 million over four years announced in the March 2022 budget to fund commodity groups for traceability systems.
WORKFORCE: Reform the Seasonal Workers Program to remove the upfront travel costs paid by farmers by January 2023. A budget neutral policy, with costs to be recovered.
WORKFORCE: $30 million over four years to provide a holistic Vocational Educational and Training (VET) package to attract students into agricultural vocations and develop an integrated curriculum for agriculture as a career choice.
WORKFORCE: $2 million over 3 years to support Farmsafe Australia in its campaigns around farm safety initiatives.
ENVIRONMENT: $2 billion over the next four years to support the continuation of pilot and expansion of initiatives such as the carbon, biodiversity and enhanced remnant vegetation programs. This funding will also contribute to further development of natural capital systems, infrastructure markets and policies.
ENVIRONMENT: $10 million for the Australian Agricultural Sustainability Framework.
SUPPLY CHAINS: $140 million over four years for freight productivity.
REGIONAL GROWTH: $500 million of the National Reconstruction Fund be allocated to shortening vulnerable supply chains and exploring domestic green fertiliser capability.
REGIONAL GROWTH: $375 million over four years to establish the Regional Development Precincts Initiative, that will provide a tripartite governmental approach to skills, housing and local infrastructure for regional Australia, including the selection of 20 precincts.

To view the full NFF Pre-Budget submission click here.