Budget focus on roads

THIS weeks’ Federal Budget included a headline figure of $600 million for Australian agriculture although Tasmanian initiatives were confined to irrigation and road projects already announced.

Farmers and primary producers are also expected to benefit from the Federal Government’s move to halve the fuel excise for the next six months.

In addition to the $13.7 million in funding already announced for the Don Irrigation scheme, the Budget confirmed spending of $100 million for the Great Eastern Drive and a myriad of road and rail upgrades.

It included $336 million for the next stage of a northern roads package and $24 million for the Bell Bay Line, reconnection to the Bell Bay wharf project.

There’s also $14.4 million for the Melba Line Bulk Minerals Rail Hub and $13.5 million for the Hobart – Northern Transit Corridor Solution. Nationally, the focus is on cutting red tape for farmers looking to export, carbon farming and biosecurity.

This includes a $20 million grant program to improve on-farm biosecurity and enhance pest and disease traceability and farmers will be encouraged to undertake carbon projects with a further $27.3 million towards delivering a plan for a voluntary biodiversity market that provides new income streams for farmers.

A $267 million package will go towards reducing the cost and time of exporting through a simplified trade system that is intended to make it easier for agriculture businesses to compete internationally.

More than $61 million will be used to boost the nation’s northern biosecurity border while the Government has committed $69 million towards the response to the emergence of Japanese encephalitis virus.

This includes $10 million to support state and territory agriculture departments to undertake necessary surveillance and control activities.

A second round of the Agricultural Show Development Grants Program is set to receive $15.4 million while the Federal Government says it will also spend $12 million on sponsoring large agricultural trade events, including $6 million for Beef Australia.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the Government’s commitment would help the agriculture sector get closer to its goal of being a $100 billion industry by 2030.

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is, supporting new programs so farmers can capitalise on export success, prepare for any tough times ahead, and stand at the centre of prosperity and growth across the nation.”

Mr Littleproud said the Government was preparing the nation’s farmers for future challenges, with $84.5m committed to drought resilience programs over the next four years, the details of which will be released in the next week.

Over the next four years, $23.4m will be invested into plant breeding, and agricultural agvet chemical innovation and commercialisation. “Innovation is driving the next wave of agricultural productivity,” Mr Littleproud said.