Budget fails farm sector

Tasmania’s peak farming body says last week’s State Budget is a disappointing outcome for the state’s agriculture sector.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association president Ian Sauer said while the organisation welcomes the funding that has been provided, he said the budget was largely an empty cupboard for Tasmanian farmers and failed to inject meaningful assistance into the sector.

He said the budget had very little good news for agriculture. 

“We didn’t come into this with our hands out, but we were hoping to see more investment in the future of agriculture as one of the key economic drivers of Tasmania,” he said.

“We understand this disappointment is shared by many sectors given the focus on education and health, but we need to ensure we have industries that can keep contributing to the economy to ensure critical services for Tasmania can be supported in the future.”

One of the measures that is supported by the TFGA is the $2.59 million for biosecurity border personnel and industry engagement for traceability planning, supply chain engagement, and emergency animal disease risk preparedness activities.

“We feel the State Government gets it and understands the need to dedicate funds to biosecurity, particularly concerning the importance of traceability and emergency animal disease preparedness,” he said.

“As we have seen with the varroa mite outbreak it’s paramount the industry is alert and ready for any incursion. In particular we welcome the $500k allocated to support apiary biosecurity with the future employment of another apiary officer to protect the state against any introduced diseases that may impact critical pollination services.”

The organization has also welcomed the investment of an additional $1.5m in educational infrastructure at Burnie’s TasTafe campus.

Mr Sauer said the TFGA’s budget submission was focused on initiatives aimed at improving the ongoing future of agriculture, through a combination of education, biosecurity and traceability, wildlife management and demonstrating the sustainability of the industry.

“Everyone expected it was going to be a tight budget, but TFGA was disappointed because we went to such a big effort to put forward a comprehensive budget submission …the focus of that was on the future – it was all about value adding and working together,” he said.

When it comes to biosecurity, the TFGA would also like to have seen greater investment in traceability initiatives such as the proposed implementation of electronic tags for sheep and goats. Mr Sauer said this is going to be a significant change, requiring significant investment from all sectors of industry, including Government.

Industry lead training and educations is another area the TFGA was hoping to see more investment in.

“We need a program developed with engagement from farmers, agriculture services providers and the education sector.”

The TFGA supports the Government’s $.1.4 million continued investment in tackling the state’s serious weed problem.

“It’s pleasing to see the government recognise the impact of invasive weeds, particularly on agricultural land,” Mr Sauer said.

“However, what is missing is investment to demonstrate the broader sustainability of Tasmanian agriculture through both carbon and natural capital accounting, ensuring we can access premium markets and maintain a competitive advantage from advantages such as our renewable energy resources.”

The TFGA is also pleased to see an additional $255,000 for the Landcare Action Program, the $2 million in funding for the Ag Innovation Hub and the additional $9.3 million in funding for continuing irrigation development.