#BudgetNight 2017 is here! So what does it mean for farmers and those living in rural areas?
Inland Rail – as suggested the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will receive $8.4 billion in funding for the 1700km freight line between Brisbane and Melbourne. Lower freight costs for Eastern farmers sending bulk commodities to port.
Landcare – Landcare is all about managing environmental issues in local communities and helping farmers sustainably manage their land to ensure it is available and arable for generations to come. Programs range from tree planting, feral animal and weed control, helping manage soil with the aim of ensuring environmental and farming resilience. They have received successive funding cuts but the #Budget17 promises at least $1 billion annually over the next few years with a once off $100 million top up negotiated by the greens to get the backpacker tax through.
Quarantine and Biosecurity – no extra funds to see here. Most of the costs incurred by the recent pest outbreaks are to be borne by the industry.
Farm Household Allowance – the program will continue indefinitely, but farmers doing it tough will only be able to collect the same payment for three years. At the end of the three years the same farmers will have new access to concessional loans.
Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) – will receive $4 billion over the next four years and will centralise concessional loans as well as the $2 billion for water infrastructure projects already allocated.
Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) – the second iteration of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) will receive $8.3 million over four years
Milk Price Index – will receive $2 million to finance its development.
Indigenous jobs – the government is trying to bolster Indigenous employment rates, through a $55.7 million commitment. More than $30 million will be spent helping Indigenous people get jobs, while almost $18 million will help Indigenous prisoners find work after they are released.
Regional health – the government will also spend $50 million to establish research fund to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and employment. There’s also $9 million allocated to improve psychological services through telehealth in rural Australia.
Continuations from previous budgets:
Asset write-off – from 2015 this project allows farmers to write-off up to $20,000 for purchasing new machinery.
So who and what has lost out?
There’s no new money for a key issue impacting the productivity, efficiency and safety of farmers – mobile phone blackspots. Nor is there any money to address the widespread data drought. Sadly $2 million is also being taken away from regional student relocation scholarships for tertiary education.
So that’s the majority of the changes directly impacting our farmers and regions as a quick summary of two ABC Rural articles.