The State Budget delivers on the Government’s minimal election commitments for Queensland agriculture but won’t drive the industry forward, AgForce said.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the State Budget contained no surprises for Queensland farmers, was disappointing in its lack of vision and was unlikely to generate much excitement in rural communities.
“Agriculture is one of the pillars of the Queensland’s economy and the fastest growing industry in Australia, but has been largely forgotten in a State Budget focused more on big spending infrastructure initiatives in the south-east corner,” he said.
“AgForce acknowledges the continuation of existing drought support funding, but would have liked to have seen additional measures to relieve cost pressures on communities and primary producers suffering through their sixth year of drought.
“The increased funding for the Works for Queensland and Building Our Regions programs will maintain critical infrastructure in regional areas, and the additional $5 million aimed at supporting regional councils to maintain local workforces is a step in the right direction but won’t go far.
“It is disappointing though that there appears to be minimal direct new funding for essential freight network projects that would make it safer, easier and cheaper to get farm goods to market.”
Mr Guerin said wild dogs have had a devastating effect on the Queensland sheep industry for decades, but the roll-out of fencing supported by Federal and State Government programs is helping the sector rebuild.
“While the $5 million over two years for wild dog exclusion cluster fencing is welcome and a good start, AgForce believes $5 million a year is needed to meet the strong demand and ensure the job gets done promptly,” he said.
Mr Guerin said the $4 million over two years to establish a scientific program to support an enhanced Statewide Landcover and Trees Study examining regrowth was a long overdue response to AgForce’s calls for the Queensland Government to look at the full picture on vegetation management.
“While there are some good initiatives for agriculture, the positives are overshadowed by the one big negative of the new vegetation management laws that will shut down new agricultural development opportunities and make it harder for farmers to grow food and fibre,” he said.
Other initiatives relevant for agriculture outlined in the State Budget include, but are not limited to:
- $176 million for the Rookwood Weir, which matches the Federal Government contribution to ensure the project goes ahead;
- $3 million over three years for the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance;
- $10 million for the Rural Economic Development Grants Scheme;
- Increased funding of $10.1 million to support grazing and other industry BMP programs in Reef catchments; and
- $200,000 for a study into the removal of stamp duty on agricultural insurance products.
Mr Guerin said AgForce was disappointed there was no funding for a quad bike safety rebate program for primary producers, no new funding for biosecurity awareness and extension, and no new funding for the School to Industry Partnership Program.
“AgForce will also keep advocating for the intergenerational farm transfer duty exemption to be extended to family trusts and companies, and for stamp duty on agricultural insurance to be removed not just reviewed,” he said.
“Overall, while the State Budget meets the minimal commitments the QLD Government made to agriculture, they have missed an opportunity to deliver a convincing vision for the industry to grow and prosper into the future.”