Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, says the 2017–18 Budget delivers on Coalition Government’s election commitments that will achieve achieve farmgate better returns and a fairer go for those working in agriculture.
The National Farmers Federation has given the budget an overall grade of ‘B+’ with wins on Inland Rail and small business taxation. The NFF’ Budget Report Card can be viewed here
Points of interest to the cattle industry:
- $8.4 billion funding for the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail project
- The establishment of a $4 billion Regional Investment Corporation, a national body to streamline and approve farm concessional loans for farm businesses and administer the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility (more detail below).
- The government will extend eligibility for farm business concessional loans to farmers who have exhausted their full three year entitlement to the Farm Household Allowance. These loans will be available only for refinancing existing debt, and consistent with the government’s drought assistance and dairy recovery concessional loans, these will be capped at $1 million or 50 per cent of final debt, whichever is the lesser.
- Over $1 billion for the National Landcare Program for “practical, on-the-ground ways to improve issues like soil health, erosion management and water quality, making the program relevant to all land managers—but especially farmers”.
- $8.3 million to support the livestock export industry, to be invested over four years in the development of the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGA), an assurance system to improve the industry’s compliance with Australia’s stringent animal welfare regulatory requirements (more below);
- $20 million for the Centre for Invasive Species.
- Reduction in the company tax rate for small businesses – set at 27.5 per cent for corporate tax entities with an annual turnover of less than $10 million for 2016/17.
- Extension of the $20 000 instant asset write off for a further 12 months to allow farmers to immediately deduct the business use portion of a depreciating asset that costs less than $20 000. This measure has now been extended to farm businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million annually (up from $2 million previously).
- An additional $200 million for a regional growth program to fund projects in regions facing major industry restructure following the end of the mining boom
Still to come:
Mr Joyce said overnight he will be making an additional announcement about funding for water infrastructure in the Great Artesian Basin “in the coming days”
- $500 million over 10 years from 2015–16 for the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund to help states and territories identify and develop secure and affordable water infrastructure to drive economic growth
- Almost $200 million over four years from 2015–16 to improve biosecurity surveillance and analysis to better target critical risks
- $180.5 million through the Rural Research and Development for Profit Program for research to improve farmgate productivity and profitability
- $50 million emergency pest and disease eradication funding available until 2019–2020
- $7.1 million over four years from 2016–17 above the ongoing $14.5 million annual investment in the Rural Financial Counselling Service
- $11.4 million to boost the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission–establishing an agricultural commissioner, Mick Keogh, and delivering a report into cattle supply chain transparency
Live exporters welcome funding commitment for LGAP implementation
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council has welcomed the $8.3 million over four years in funding to support the future implementation of the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP).
LGAP is a proposed global conformity assessment program for livestock exports that protects the welfare of animals, fosters continual improvement and the attainment of best practice. The first-tranche in Commonwealth funding support for LGAP follows an election commitment made by the Coalition last year.
ALEC CEO Simon Westaway said the funds from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) would help progress the implementation process.
He said the Australian livestock export industry delivered $2 billion in annual exports, and the funding towards LGAP would further strengthen and drive animal welfare improvements across global supply chains,
“Australian livestock exporters are committed to delivering and demonstrating enhanced compliance with Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) standards as well as driving animal welfare improvements across global livestock supply chains. Our industry continues to back our world leading approach to animal welfare outcomes in the international livestock trade,” Mr Westaway said.
“This funding allocation confirms the Australian Government shares that vision and commitment to improved animal welfare outcomes and a more resilient livestock export trade.”
Further details: $4 billion Regional Investment Corporation
- For loans to help secure economic growth, investment and resilience in rural and regional communities across Australia.
- The RIC will administer the government’s $2 billion farm business concessional loans from 2018–19, as well as the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility.
- RIC will be governed by an independent board and CEO with commercial experience to appropriately manage public money.
- Legislation to be introduced later this year to establish the RIC as a separate entity within the Agriculture portfolio.
- Through the RIC, the government will make concessional loans available to farm businesses that are experiencing hardship but are keen to pursue opportunities to expand their business and boost their long-term profitability.
- The RIC will give farm access to low-cost finance so they can “build and maintain diversity in the markets they supply, and take advantage of new and emerging opportunities across Australia and overseas”.
- The RIC will also help fast-track the construction of dams and priority water infrastructure projects needed to stimulate investment, economic growth and increased agricultural productivity in rural and regional communities.
- Mr Joyce said RIC water infrastructure loans will provide an incentive to states and territories to break ground on priority water infrastructure projects that will generate local jobs, create better opportunities for rural and regional communities, and help agricultural industries expand and increase in productivity.
- Until the RIC is open for business, it is intended that farm businesses will be able to continue to apply for concessional loans through their state’s delivery agency. State and territory governments can continue to apply for water infrastructure loans through the department at agriculture.gov.au/waterloans.