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28 June, 2021

Mixed reactions to State Budget

State agriculture industry bodies have not been united in their reactions to last Tuesday’s Queensland Government 2021/2022 Budget with Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) describing the measures as underwhelming while Agforce called the funding measures a “shot in the arm for agriculture”.

AgForce’s Georgie Somerset welcomed the programs for drought-affected producers featured in the Budget.

The Budget continued funding for farmers impacted by drought with a commitment of up to $71.4 million over four years for the Drought Assistance and Reform Package as well as more funding for Rural Economic Development (RED) Grants, additional funds to the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme and an increased investment in Biosecurity Operations of $8.8 million over four years.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the investment in agriculture ensures one of the backbones of the economy can grow and thrive.   

 “Our primary producers have been front of mind for Government through drought, floods, and now  COVID-19,” he said.  

“We’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with our farmers to help them get on with business and support employment.”

AgForce General President Georgie Somerset said the peak industry body is positive about the funding for drought support. 

“This announcement by the State Government as part of their budget commitments guarantees there will be no changes to current drought support already in place,” she said.

“What it adds, however, is greater access for producers to programs that focus on preparation and resilience for the inevitable droughts that will develop in the coming years. 

“These drought programs will be available across all broadacre commodities, including being extended to the cane and grains sectors, opening up drought assistance to a whole range of farming families doing it tough.”

QFF CEO Dr Georgina Davis wasn’t as optimistic, saying that the Budget’s headline numbers could not disguise that it was again a missed opportunity to address some critical productivity issues.

“QFF commends the State Government for investing $71.4 million over four years in the Queensland Drought Assistance and Reform Package to support farmers experiencing the impacts of drought on their properties and ensuring this assistance is more equitable across the state’s various agricultural commodities,” she said.

“However, the Budget failed to abolish stamp duty on agricultural insurance and establish a Discretionary Mutual Fund to provide a flexible option for crop insurance.

“We also welcome funding to continue important workforce and skilling programs, but would have also liked to see a greater focus on reducing youth unemployment by creating career pathways to all the employment opportunities across Queens-land’s agriculture sector.”

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