‘Keep Your Money’: Farmers Plea At Painful Budget

The Federal Government has twisted the knife into Australian agriculture in tonight’s budget, with the biggest allocation of new funding for the sector allocated to shutting down the live sheep trade.

National Farmers’ Federation President David Jochinke said while at a glance it would appear the biggest spending spree for agriculture was for the Future Drought Fund, only $42.2 million is new money.

“Peel back the surface and the disappointment appears. The biggest spend in ‘agriculture’ is not even for farmers, it’s appeasing the extreme activists and to generate inner city votes at the next election.”

“The budget confirms $107 million to cancel the trade, and to add insult to injury, only $64.6 million will go to producers and the supply chain.

“Farmers from across the nation are still reeling from Saturday’s announcement the live sheep trade will be wiped out in just four years.

“This is a bitter blow. What we say to the Government is reverse the ban, keep your money and we’ll call it even.

“This is a painful budget for Australian farmers and this is a kick in the guts when we are already down.”

Climate change announcements a positive to help shape the agenda, but we await detail

The NFF awaits more detail on the $63.8 million over a decade to support initial emission reduction efforts in the agriculture and land sectors as part of Australia’s transition to net zero by 2050.

“This announcement should prove a solid down payment on investing in agriculture’s approach to addressing climate change. We look forward to understanding the detail.”

The NFF looks forward to continuing to engaging with Government to co-design appropriate measures, beginning at next week’s Sustainable Agriculture Summit.

“We welcome funding for the Nature Positive Plan, and improving the Australian Carbon Credit Unit Scheme we will continue to unpack these and what they mean for agriculture over the coming days.”

Regional infrastructure spend welcomed

The $1.7 billion spend for roads is welcome news from this budget. Farmers are fed up with Australia’s crumbling road network.

“We hope this indicates a renewed focus on creating more efficient and safer freight routes.”

Fund for community-destroying buybacks concealed

The budget includes an undisclosed amount for progressing controversial water buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin.

“We’d love them to come clean on exactly what that slush fund contains. Communities deserve transparency about how many farms will be shut down in the blind rush to complete the Plan.”

Little to support careers in agriculture

In a disappointing blow to workforce, the Government has cut the Harvest Trail Services and Harvest Trail Information Service programs to save $47.3 million and it’s drastically slashed funding for the gap-year program AgCAREERSTART.

“AgCAREERSTART has received a pitiful $500,000 across two years. Whilst it’s a start, it falls far short of the $4.4 million needed to keep the program’s momentum going.”

“This program has revolutionised bringing fresh feet into the industry, connecting young people with jobs on farms, as well as helping solve farm workforce shortages.

“It’s been one of the few positive improvements amid a slashing of visa programs and degrading of workplace laws that has characterised this Government, and now its future remains uncertain.”

Community engagement on renewables

“A $20.7 million provision for the continued funding of the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner is a good start to improve community engagement and social licence for renewables projects,” Mr Jochinke said.

“However, the package doesn’t go far enough, only supporting voluntary national developer standards. NFF have consistently called for an enforceable code which needs to be designed and implemented ASAP.

“For too long, energy companies have run roughshod over farmers and regional communities. The NFF will continue to fight for better consultation and solutions that don’t sacrifice food and fibre production.”

The NFF also noted and welcomed additional announcements relevant to the farm sector, including:

  • Extension of the $20,000 instant asset write-off until 30 June 2025.
  • $519.1 million across 4 years for the Future Drought Fund only includes $42.2 million in new money.
  • An additional extra $13.9 million for the Department to respond quickly to drought events and ensure drought is always high on the policy agenda.
  • $2 million boost to help Australian agricultural exporters rebuild trade with China and diversify into other markets, as well as a $14.4 million commitment to expand the Australia-India Business Exchange to promote Australia’s trade and investment with India and across South Asia.
  • $400,000 across three years for Farmsafe Australia to extend the National Farm Safety Week campaign.
  • $1.5 million to improve accurate and clear labelling of plant-based alternative protein products.

/Public Release. View in full here.