The Agriculture sector has been boosted by a number of new initiatives in the 2017-18 Federal Budget, which was handed down in Canberra on Tuesday evening.
Among the new funding is an additional $8.4 billion towards an inland rail line, stretching 1,700 kilometres between Melbourne and Brisbane. It will ultimately help reduce transport costs for regional agricultural producers and consumers along the eastern seaboard. Construction is set to start as early as this year, and is expected to be complete by 2024.
The Federal Government will also establish a new Regional Investment Corporation, as it extends the eligibility for the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme.
The new loans allow recipients of the Farm Household Allowance access to extra funding to assist in reducing debt, as long as they are not receiving any other Government support. Farmers will be eligible for loans of up to 50 per cent of their current debt position to a maximum of $1million for refinancing purposes. The loans will be available to recipients who will be exhausting their existing entitlement on or before 30 June 2018.
These loans will be overseen by the new RIC, which will streamline future delivery of loan arrangements, deliver national consistency and ensure farm business loans are approved efficiently, to help farming businesses in need.
The Government will also strengthen the imported food safety program, placing more responsibility on importers to source safe food and provide documentary evidence that they have internationally recognised controls in place. Funding has also been allocated for additional emergency powers to stop and manage new and emerging risks at the border.
The department of Agriculture and Water Resources says it is continuing its $30.8million per year from two budgets ago, in line with its commitment to break down technical barriers to trade, including the appointment of agriculture councillors.
This year also sees the third installment of the Government's $200 million biosecurity surveillance system improvements, and $12.4 million to improve traceability systems to ensure the integrity of products and that markets remain open..
To access full budget documents, visit: www.budget.gov.au
Publication date: 5/9/2017
Author: Matthew Russell