Support for water saving measures in the Great Artesian Basin and continued drought assistance are among the few highlights in an “underwhelming” Queensland Budget for agriculture, AgForce said.
AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said agriculture was one of the pillars of the State’s economy and the lifeblood of many regional communities, but the Queensland Government had outlined no clear vision to help the industry grow and prosper into the future.
“While there are billions of dollars set aside for road and rail projects in South East Queensland, there appears to be no major new funding for regional and rural transport initiatives that would make it safer, easier and cheaper to get farm goods to market,” he said.
“It’s particularly disappointing there is no funding for an AgForce-backed rail freight infrastructure project in Central and Southern Queensland that would be a game changer for grain growers.”
Mr Maudsley welcomed the continuation of assistance measures for primary producers battling the current drought, as well as $16 million for a program aimed at helping producers better manage future drought and climate risks.
“The prolonged drought has taken an enormous financial, emotional and environmental toll on many Queenslanders so assistance to help primary producers and regional communities through these tough times is always welcome,” he said.
“AgForce also acknowledges the $3.4 million over four years for the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority to undertake a rural debt survey, operate the Farm Debt Restructure Office, and develop a policy and research function in the Authority.”
Mr Maudsley said the Queensland Budget did not include the boost in biosecurity funding that AgForce was hoping for to help producers manage pests and diseases, and meet their new biosecurity obligations.
“Wild dog exclusion fencing has helped revitalize the sheep and wool industry in Queensland, and while the extra $1 million in funding is welcome, it falls short of what is needed to meet demand,” he said.
Mr Maudsley said the Natural Resources Minister’s commitment of up to $4 million towards the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative was another positive.
“The Great Artesian Basin underpins $13 billion in economic activity annually, including $3 billion from livestock in Queensland, so it’s vital that the Federal and Queensland governments work with landholders to finish the job of capping bores and piping bore drains to save precious water,” he said.
Mr Maudsley said it was disappointing the intergenerational farm transfer duty exemption had not yet been extended to family trusts and companies, but AgForce would keep advocating for this change to be made as soon as possible.