National Farmers' Federation

Budget needs to chart course for agricultural growth

The 2015-16 Federal Budget comes at a pivotal time for agriculture, as the industry looks to capture opportunities in booming export markets, while at the same time large areas of Australia continue to face prolonged drought. National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President, Brent Finlay, said the budget would need to walk the line between short term viability and long term vision for farm businesses. “Agriculture is a key strength of the Australian economy and one of Australia’s best hopes for sustained export growth over coming decades as commodity cycles impede other industries,” Mr Finlay said. “Only agriculture can reasonably expect to double its export earnings between now and 2030 – with total value tipped to exceed $100 billion. “Unlocking agriculture’s potential will not be possible unless it is prioritised on the national agenda. The upcoming Federal Budget will be a crucial test of the Government’s focus. “Currently, producers across large tracts of NSW and Queensland are facing their third year without income as a result of drought, and Federal Government support is falling short for those in need. “Ultra-cautious eligibility criteria and loan terms are screening out farmers facing genuine hardship. Left unchecked, the result will be good producers exiting the industry – selling short Australia’s productive capacity.” The NFF is continuing to work with government to resolve the bureaucratic logjam. A recent Senate Inquiry heard that the total cost of lending support measures over the past two financial years was a meagre $22.105 million – leaving scope to improve access despite tight budget circumstances. “In addition to providing hope for drought-affected farmers in the short term, the NFF is hoping to see long term vision in the budget in the form of allocations for: rural infrastructure; ongoing market access efforts; research and development; and a pool of funds for the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. “As a key pillar of the Government’s Competitiveness Agenda, we need to build on our industry’s strong foundations with continued public investment,” Mr Finlay concluded. The NFF 2015 Federal Budget Submission is available http://www.nff.org.au/get/submissions/4858.pdf[here].

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