Practical policy delivering for unstoppable ag sector
21 June 2017
- The Agriculture and Water Resources portfolio has seen a further year of delivery in 2016-17
- Gross value of farm production is forecast by ABARES to reach a massive $62.8 billion in 2016-17.
- The Liberal-Nationals Government is delivering on a key commitment, the $4 billion Regional Investment Corporation, bringing more jobs to the regions.
- The Liberal-Nationals' $2.5 billion water infrastructure program is fast-tracking the identification and construction of the water infrastructure of the 21st Century.
It has been almost a year since the July 2016 re-election of the Liberal-Nationals Government and the Coalition has been 'whipping' through the delivery of its commitments in agriculture and water resources, with agriculture growing faster than any other sector, at 15%, in the 12 months to the March quarter.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resource, Barnaby Joyce said agriculture's continued strong performance was backed by solid policy initiatives to deliver money back through the farm-gate, while also supporting those doing it tough. Many of these policy initiatives came from the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
"We saw a record set for the gross value of farm production, increasing to a massive $62.8 billion in 2016-17, up from $48.7 billion when we came to government," Mr Joyce said. "The Agriculture sector grew the fastest amongst all industries in the March quarter, 15 per cent year on year. No other sector was in cooee of agriculture.
Mr Joyce nominated funding for Inland Rail as one of The Nationals most significant achievements in the last 12 months as part of a Coalition Government, and said the government's decentralisation agenda was delivering for the regions.
"I recently introduced legislation to establish a $4 billion Regional Investment Corporation (RIC), to be based in Orange, NSW, as part of our commitment to support farmers and bring more jobs, services and opportunities to regional Australia," Mr Joyce said.
"The RIC will deliver the government's $2 billion farm business concessional loans and the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility, and help Orange grow into a centre of agri-finance excellence."
Mr Joyce said the Liberal-Nationals Government is taking a national approach to water policy delivering the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility, which opened for business on 8 February this year.
"We are committed to building dams, with a key commitment of $130 million to build Rookwood Weir near Rockhampton; a nationally significant investment that would create over 2000 jobs, increase agricultural production by over $1 billion and secure water supplies for Rockhampton and Gladstone," Mr Joyce said.
"Other water infrastructure commitments include Dungowan Dam, NSW ($75 million); the South West Loddon Pipeline, VIC ($20 million); the Macalister Irrigation District, VIC ($20 million) and the Tasmanian Irrigation Tranche 2 programme, TAS ($60 million)."
In March the Minister signed a joint agreement with China to deliver improved export opportunities and market access for Australian chilled meat, which industry has estimated could be worth more than $400 million per year to Australia's domestic meat processing industry. This builds on the tariff reductions under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).
On 5 April 2017 the new mandatory sugar code of conduct came into effect to support cane growers dealing with sugar cane mills on a level playing field. The new code guarantees a grower's choice in marketer as well as providing pre-contract arbitration between mill owners and marketers, and between cane growers and mill owners if an agreement cannot be reached.
The Liberal-Nationals Government has invested more than $5 million in Wild Dog Action Plans, and over the last two years contributed over $13 million to construct almost 4,500 kilometres of dog-proof fencing. The fencing is vital in protecting stock, such as sheep, from wild dog attacks, to increase farm productivity and lambing rates.
Mr Joyce announced eligibility for the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme will be extended in 2017-18 to Farm Household Allowance recipients coming off the allowance; the government recognises some farmers may need further assistance to achieve their farm business plans.
The Liberal-Nationals Government has committed more than $1 billion over 5 years to the new National Landcare Program. This program highlights the importance of sustainable and effective land management which underpins our valuable and world-class agricultural industries.
Mr Joyce said in order to protect our valuable agricultural industries the Coalition has delivered the most comprehensive overhaul of national biosecurity in more than a century.
"The unprecedented investment we are making in biosecurity, reaching $752.7 million in 2017-18, compared with $603.4 million in 2012-13, complements the new legislation the Coalition has delivered," Mr Joyce said.
"Agriculture is a central pillar of the Australian economy and the Liberal-Nationals Government will continue to roll out pragmatic and effective policies and programs to support its growth."
Other initiatives delivered in the past financial year include:
- Fixing the backpacker tax issue with a rate of 15 per cent
- Implementing a comprehensive foreign investment framework for agriculture, to improve transparency and give the community proper confidence about foreign investment
- Implementing new Country of Origin Labelling Laws, which came into force on 1 July 2016, making it easier for families to see how much of their food is Australian made, grown or produced
- Investing $50 million over four years in international and domestic wine promotion
- Implementing a new mandatory Horticulture Code of Conduct which came into effect on 1 April 2017
- Providing $8.3 million to fund the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP)
- Decentralising the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to Armidale as part of establishing a Centre of Agricultural Excellence at the University of New England.
- Delivering the Dairy Assistance Package to support farmers impacted by retrospective farmgate milk price cuts, including approving over $109 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans (as at 30 April 2017).
- Providing support for the Casino Beef Week, held in May 2017
- Introducing legislation to establish an 'effects test' in national competition law
- Enabled the introduction of the first Farm Management Deposits offset account
- Negotiated improved market access arrangements for the live cattle trade to Indonesia