Continued Government investment is critical to ensuring the future of the agricultural sector, the head of the peak national farming organisation said today. In releasing the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) 2012-13 Federal Budget Submission, NFF President Jock Laurie called on the Government to secure funding for key agricultural programs for the coming year. “We recognise that the Federal Government has committed to bringing the Budget back into surplus by 2012-13 and that this is no easy task,” Mr Laurie said. “We know that tough decisions will have to be made by the Government, but this does not mean neglecting key opportunities to invest in growth sectors of the Australian economy – sectors like agriculture. “The productivity growth in the farm sector over the past 20 years has consistently outperformed other sectors, and was a key reason Australia avoided a recession during the global financial crisis. There are massive opportunities for Australian agriculture, with demand for food and fibre expected to grow – particularly from the Asian region which is right on our doorstep. “Now is not the time for the Government to be cutting back it’s spend on agriculture – but rather investing for the long haul,” Mr Laurie said. The NFF Budget Submission outlines ten priority areas for funding of the farm sector by the Federal Government. “From finding solutions to the agricultural labour shortage to ensuring a fair go for farmers regarding coal seam gas exploration and development, the NFF Budget Submission aims to ensure that the social, economic and environmental programs currently committed to by the Government remain top of mind,” Mr Laurie said. “Key funding priorities for the NFF include locking in the Government’s commitment to funding the biosecurity recommendations from the Beale Review in order to protect Australia’s enviable disease-free status, and extending the WA drought pilot for a further 12 months to ensure the program can be properly assessed. “We also call on the Government to guarantee that the remaining Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program funds are tagged for on-farm infrastructure works and measures to help contribute to the water savings programs. And we are seeking the Government’s full commitment to enhancing rural research and development. “This year, our Budget Submission is about ensuring that funds already committed, and promises made, are upheld – and we will work with Government in the lead up to the Budget to ensure this occurs,” Mr Laurie said. The NFF Budget Submission can be found at the http://www.nff.org.au/publications.html#cat_494[NFF website].