Budget backs farmers and the bush
Industry groups have welcomed yesterday’s federal budget, saying that it recognises the fundamental role agriculture is poised to play in Australia’s ongoing COVID-19 recovery.
The National Farmers Federation (NFF) says that the budget affirms the government’s support for the farm sector’s goal to achieve $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030.
“In what is arguably the most important budget of a generation, the Treasurer has outlined a pragmatic but bold spending agenda that will accelerate agriculture’s growth and regional Australia’s contribution to the nation’s bottom line,” says NFF President Fiona Simson.
“The NFF welcomes a combination of big-ticket, future-focused regional infrastructure spends and immediate cash injections needed to stimulate growth and to address the COVID-induced challenges facing farmers, including critical labour shortages.”
Horticulture is expected to have a labour deficit of 26,000 workers come March next year. To encourage young Australians to take up farm work, $17.4 million will be directed to $6000 grants to assist with the costs of relocating to regional Australia. Temporary changes will also be made to speed up access to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY for young people who choose to work on farms. However, the NFF will continue to call for a designated workforce solution to address agriculture’s ongoing labour challenges.
“We welcome the investment to see Australians pursue careers in agriculture with support to make higher education courses in agriculture more affordable,” Simson says.
Meanwhile, AUSVEG, the peak industry body for the Australian vegetable industry, has welcomed the government’s support of the vegetable growing industry and the horticulture businesses that supply our high-quality produce both locally and internationally.
The budget includes a range of measures that benefit growers, including incentives to attract local, displaced workers, assistance for exporting growers to continue to supply high-quality produce to key global markets, tax incentives to support business investment and growth, and funding for biosecurity and drought resilience and preparedness.
AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside says that the government had heeded the concerns of industry and addressed the key areas that were impacting the industry’s confidence in the months and years ahead due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
“The issues of ensuring growers have access to an adequate, reliable source of labour and continuing to service critical export markets are vital areas that needed to be addressed,” Whiteside says. “We are pleased to see the Morrison government has responded.”