May 8, 2012
The National Farmers’ Federation says it’s pleased by the Federal Government’s recognition in the Budget of agriculture’s strong growth prospects, but it’s dismayed by the decision to scrap funding for the FarmReady program.
Funding for the National Weeds and Productivity Program and components of the Community Networks and Capacity Building Program have also been wound back.
“The NFF called on the government to deliver two things in this year’s Budget: To deliver on the funds already committed and promises made and to create a platform for future investment in our food and fibre sectors,” NFF President Jock Laurie said.
“We are pleased that the agricultural sector has largely held its ground in tonight’s Budget and welcome areas of new investment.
“The commitment to $379.9 million towards a new post entry quarantine centre as well as funding towards pest and disease eradication efforts is a positive signal from the Government that improving Australia’s biosecurity system remains a priority.
“Let’s not pretend that the job of implementing the Beale Reforms is now complete as a result of this announcement – far from it. However, we at least know that our quarantine system is not being compromised while we await the roll out of remaining reforms.
“The NFF also voiced its concerns in the lead up to this year’s Budget that the Caring for Our Country program was at risk.
This program has been vital in providing incentives for those who manage more than 60 per cent of our landscape – Australian farmers – in undertaking environmental management practices.
“Tonight’s commitment to continue funding Caring for Our Country for another five years from 2013-14 is recognition of the vital role that farmers provide in caring for our natural resources.
“The NFF has also been pleased that tonight’s Budget has incorporated support for the work of the Bureau of Meteorology, the commitment of funds to aid the implementation of the EPBC Act reforms and flood levy exemptions for those suffering flood damage.
“On the downside, the NFF is extremely disappointed about the removal of funds for agricultural programs such as FarmReady, the National Weeds and Productivity Program and components of the Community Networks and Capacity Building Program.
“At a time when preparedness and resilience is a key focus for the farm sector, the NFF is particularly dismayed by the inability of the Government to find funds for the FarmReady program – a program that has provided much needed tools for farmers looking to manage their risk.
“This will be tough news for many farmers to swallow, especially as it comes hot on the heels of the recent announcement that interest rate subsidies have now been removed with no replacement policy to fill this void.”