National Farmers' Federation

NFF Report Card scores Federal Budget a 'B'

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has awarded the Federal Budget a B grade, awarding top marks for the Government’s investment in trade, market access and biosecurity but deducting marks for overlooking regional telecommunications.
Speaking from Parliament House, NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the Budget recognised agriculture’s contribution to the national economy, especially in terms of exports.
“The agriculture sector exports about three quarters of what we produce.
“Developing global markets, protecting those markets and making it more efficient to transport produce is critical.
“Pleasingly, tonight’s Budget delivers investment in all these areas.”
In a nod to the importance of market development, the Budget provides for an additional six agriculture counsellors to be based in key global markets, taking the number of in-market counsellors to 22.
“Biosecurity is the big push in the agriculture portfolio, with $101.6 million earmarked to better protect our borders”
On the domestic biosecurity front, $20 million will tackle the incursion of fruit fly in northern Tasmania.
The Budget also continues the immediate asset write-off for small business assets under $20,000.
The instant asset write-off has been prized by farmers looking to improve the productivity of their businesses.
“It would be great to see this locked in for the longer term, but farmers will be pleased to see the 12-month extension nonetheless,” Mr Mahar said.
The Government also heeded NFF’s call for better insight into the farm workforce, allocating $4 million for a farm workforce survey to assess labour shortfalls and the labour market in general.
“We also welcome the investment in rural health and education – both are key to strong, sustainable regional communities.”
Unfortunately, the Budget overlooks the challenge of connectivity in our regional areas – failing to commit funding to the Mobile Blackspot Program.
“Connectivity is so important for farm businesses, and mobile coverage is the gold standard.
“While this Government’s investment in new mobile towers has been strong, we’re now facing a situation where new investment will halt next financial year.
“This is a big disappointment for farmers who are waiting for a tower in their region,” Mr Mahar said.

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