National Farmers' Federation

Improved flexibility of measures sensible, but shuffling funds not the answer

“The announcement today by the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, in relation to the reallocation of Farm Finance concessional loan funds demonstrates that the Federal Government needs to improve its commitment to agriculture,” NFF President, Duncan Fraser, said today.
“The NFF has for some time called for a reprioritisation of agriculture on the national agenda. In fact, this was the priority issue in the NFF 2013 Federal Election platform. This is a clear example of where we need the commitment to agriculture by the Government to be improved.”
Mr Fraser said the NFF, together with its members, has been working with the Government to improve drought policy, including measures that assist with preparedness, in-event support and recovery. The NFF preference is that new drought policy measures should be provided from new allocations and not reduce the capacity of existing measures within the agriculture portfolio.
“Having said that, we recognise that the current seasonal conditions in the majority of Queensland, Northern New South Wales and patches of the Northern Territory are such that we need to have flexible measures to ensure that farmers in these regions are not left without support.
“The concessional loans package can assist with a range of external pressures facing farm businesses at the moment and we need to ensure people can gain access in a timely manner. What we don’t want is to have these measures available and no-one be able to use them. There needs to be improved flexibility in the approach by governments to make sure that this funding hits the ground and is not tied up by administrative arrangements.
“The additional funding announced by Minister Joyce for water infrastructure in Queensland and New South Wales means that farmers will have improved capacity to manage and allocate water to where it’s most needed across the property. Support for sustainable farming practices are critical to the future of farming and are consistent with broader drought management. They should not been viewed as mutually exclusive.
“The measures announced today are small but sensible steps. However, there is still significant work ahead for State and Federal Governments to finalise drought policy reform. The NFF and its members will be working closely with respective governments to see this important work continue,” Mr Fraser said.

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