The Government has heeded the NFF’s call for strategic investment to kick start the renewal of regional Australia in tonight’s (March 29 2022) Federal Budget.
Two billion dollars will be directed to a wide-ranging Regional Accelerator Program, that includes investment in modern manufacturing, export expansion, supply chain resilience, education infrastructure, and hubs to assist farmers to adopt digital technologies.
NFF CEO Tony Mahar said the Government had begun to answer the call in the NFF’s Roadmap for a revitalised future for our regions but significantly more investment was needed to bring the vision to life.
“Agriculture is on trajectory of growth, now is the time to supercharge the industry and the rural and regional communities that rely on it.”
A highlight of the Budget is $1.3 billion over six years to regional communications, including last week’s announcement of $481 million to expand and improve the nbn network plus $811.8 million to address mobile coverage, connectivity, resilience and affordability in regional Australia.
These commitments acknowledge the significant challenges highlighted by regional telecommunications users through the Regional Telecommunications Review.
Mr Mahar said the Budget again failed to deliver an adequate and sustainable funding pipeline for the modernisation and expansion of Australia’s biosecurity system and there was insufficient investment to address imminent biosecurity threats.
“An investment of $15 million in financial year 2023, to ward off a lumpy skin disease incursion falls short given the serious risk to international market access.
“Despite crippling labour challenges, the farm sector continued to power the nation’s COVID-challenged economy. It’s disappointing therefore not to see the Government take this opportunity to outline significant agriculture skill development initiatives.”
While welcoming more investment ($27 million) in an expanded National Stewardship Trading Platform, Mr Mahar questioned the absence of further support to develop the Australian Agricultural Sustainability Framework.
Other key budget measures for agriculture and regional Australia include:
- $300 million for low emission technology including the development of rural and regional microgrid projects.
- $127.4 million to expand the Digital Services to Take Farmers to Market platform to modernise the Government’s agricultural export systems.
- Tax breaks to encourage the commercialisation of eligible patents for new ag vet chemicals technologies.
- Confirmed changes to the tax treatment for ACCUs and biodiversity, $100 million cost to budget.
- $500 million for regional modern manufacturing.
- $139.9 million to continue to achieve a sustainable Murray Darling Basin.
- The expansion of the existing On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme (the Scheme) to 30 June 2023.
- Investment in agricultural shows and flagship industry events Beef Week and Lamb Ex.