Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, has marked two years since the Coalition Government was elected to office to end Labor’s waste, chaos and mismanagement.
“It has been an absolute privilege to serve as part of a government that recognizes the true importance of agriculture as a pillar of the Australian economy,” Minister Joyce said.
“In the past two years we have worked hard to put in place the right policy settings and practical measures to help increase returns to farmers at the farmgate.
“Since the change of government the prices of soft commodities have had one of the greatest turnarounds in our nation's history—thanks to a range of factors including overseas demand, a low dollar, and good management by government including delivering three new trade agreements, seven new livestock export markets and 42 technical market access gains.
“The price of lamb in Victoria has increased from 429 cents a kilo (dressed weight) in September 2013 to 580 cents a kilo in the week ending 28 August 2015—an increase of 35 per cent. While the price of wool has increased from 1098 cents a kilo in September 2013 to 1258 cents a kilo in the week ending 3 September 2015—an increase of 15 per cent.
“Importantly we are also ensuring that higher soft commodity prices are being translated into better returns through to the farmgate, and recent ABARES data has vindicated the Coalition Government’s direction since coming to office.
“Beef cattle farm cash incomes increased substantially last year, up an average 98.1 per cent per farm to $148,000 for Northern Australia farms, and up by 68 per cent to $64,000 for farms in Southern Australia.
“Australian dairy farm incomes are projected to have averaged $97,000 a farm in 2014–15, a 120 per cent increase on farm cash income in 2012–13 which averaged $44,130.
“ABARES forecasts export earnings from farm commodities will be around $41.8 billion in 2015–16—around 10 per cent higher than the average of $38 billion over the five years to 2014–15 in nominal terms.
“We have delivered on our many substantial election commitments, including developing an Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper which was released on 4 July 2015—a $4 billion investment in our farmers.
“Through the White Paper we are introducing new country of original labelling, putting in place clearer drought support measures, cutting red tape, encouraging trade, strengthening biosecurity and pest and weed management, and supporting business to innovate and create jobs.
“And work is well underway to implement the measures in the White Paper. We are rolling out improved drought concessional loans, and have implemented changes to tax deductions for new on-farm water facilities and fodder storage assets, as well as accelerated depreciation for fencing.
“Since coming to office, we have responded decisively to the drought situation, with investments of more than $500 million in drought and hardship support for farmers and rural communities doing it tough. This is on top of the almost $3 billion investment in drought support and risk management included in the White Paper.
“One of the most important things the government can do for the growth and prosperity of our agriculture sector—and for our economy as a whole—is create as many opportunities as possible for our producers to export their premium products to premium markets at premium prices. We have done exactly that.
“In the agriculture portfolio since September 2013, we have achieved 42 key market access gains or restorations of suspended markets, and 14 key market access improvements or actions to maintain market access.
“We’ve already secured trade deals with Japan, Korea and China—three of our most valuable agricultural export markets, worth $15.7 billion combined in 2014—and opened seven new livestock export markets—Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Cambodia, Thailand, Lebanon and China.
“We have also realised the biggest overhaul to Australia’s biosecurity system in over 100 years with the new Biosecurity Act 2015, which will provide a more modern and flexible legislative framework for managing biosecurity risks and reduce compliance costs by $6.9 million a year.
“Through the Stronger Biosecurity and Quarantine Initiative we have also provided over $1 million to governments and industry to assist them to rapidly respond to pest incursions, and committed over $37 million for 11 national eradication programmes.
“We have implemented sensible reforms to improve scrutiny and transparency around foreign ownership of agricultural land—reforms that Labor has committed to dismantling.
“We have delivered on our promise to increase R&D funding, investing $200 million in the Rural R&D for Profit Programme, designed to deliver tangible productivity and profitability improvements for primary producers. Over $26 million in projects have already been announced, and round two will open soon.
“We are cutting red tape across the ag sector across areas like biosecurity, AgVet chemicals, import and export processes.
“We have responded to consumer demand and are working to introduce a meaningful and clear country of origin labelling system for food.
“This government has a clear plan for a strong and prosperous agriculture sector, a plan that is working and delivering for Australian farmers. I look forward continuing to work with our farmers to realise the bright future the sector deserves.”
Coalition Government Achievements in Agriculture
? Delivered the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper*, a $4 billion investment in our farmers, including:
o $11.4 million over four years to boost Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) engagement with the agricultural sector including a new commissioner dedicated to agriculture
o $13.8 million for a two-year pilot programme to provide farmers with knowledge and materials on cooperatives, collective bargaining and innovative business models
o $500 million for developing the nation’s water infrastructure
o up to $250 million in Drought Concessional Loans each year for 11 years
o $22.8 million to increase Farm Household Allowance case management for farmers
o $35 million for local infrastructure projects to help communities suffering due to drought
o $25.8 million over four years to manage pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas
o more favourable depreciation arrangements for on-farm fodder storage assets and water facilities (from 7:30pm 12 May 2015)
o a new, clear and unambiguous, Country of Origin Labelling system for food
o improvements to Farm Management Deposits
o $20.4 million to streamline the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals
o $1 million for freight modelling for agriculture – expansion of CSIRO TRANSIT
o $3.3 million for better seasonal forecasting (improved climate prediction service)
o Productivity Commission reviews into reducing regulation for the agriculture, marine fisheries and aquaculture industries
o $1.8 million for additional RFCS in high demand areas due to drought for 2015-16
o $20 million for expanded enhanced social and community support for 2015-16
o $29.9 million for farm insurance advice and risk assessment grants (Managing Farm Risk Programme)
o $3.3 million for more accurate, more local and more frequent seasonal forecasts
o $100 million to extend the Rural R&D for Profit Programme to 2021–22
o $50 million to boost emergency pest and disease eradication capability
o $50 million for management of established pest animals and weeds
o $1.4 million to match industry levies and contributions in the export fodder and tea tree oil industries
o measures to improve RDCs
o $1.2 million to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
o $200 million to improve biosecurity surveillance and analysis nationally
o $30.8 million to break down technical barriers to trade and appointing five new overseas Agriculture Counsellors
o $12.4 million to modernise Australia's food export regulatory traceability systems to further enhance our food safety credentials
? Delivered over $500 million in drought and hardship support including:
o over $354 million in concessional loans approved to 675 farm businesses
o introducing a new Farm Household Allowance (FHA) to replace Labor’s failed Transitional Farm Family Payment (as at 21 August 2015, 5353 FHA claims granted since 1 July 2014)
o over $23 million allocated in 2013–14 and 2014–15 to vital water infrastructure through state government programmes in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia
o more than $8.8 million was allocated in 2013–14 and 2014–15 to pest management projects in drought-affected areas
o over $15.5 million in 2013–14 and 2014–15 for enhanced social and community support
? Implemented reforms to improve scrutiny and transparency around foreign ownership of agricultural land
? Signed Free Trade Agreements with three major agricultural trading partners: China, Japan and South Korea*
? Improved market access and opened seven new livestock export markets (Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, Cambodia, Thailand, Lebanon, China)*
? Provided over $2.6 million to implement the National Wild Dog Action Plan and assist farmers to take pre-emptive action when dogs enter their farm, by developing and testing and early warning system
? Realised the biggest overhaul to Australia’s biosecurity system in over 100 years with the new Biosecurity Act 2015
? Repealed the Carbon Tax to reduce electricity prices*
? $100 million R&D funding to improve farmgate profits*
? Introduced and deployed the $20 million Biosecurity Rapid Response Team*
? Import Risk Analysis review*
? Established the Agricultural Industry Advisory Council*
? Introduced the $15 million Package to Assist Small Exporters*
? Allocated $8 million to improve access to AgVet chemicals*
? Introduced $9 million fisheries package including a marine pest review*
? Tasmanian Fruit & Vegetable Taskforce*
? Australian Grape and Wine Authority
? Farm chemical reregistration reforms*
? Agriculture in education programme*
? Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group & Options Paper
? Agricultural Finance Forum
? Negotiated with banks to help relieve drought-stressed debt
? Reduced red tape in the Department of Agriculture by $25 million
*Denotes election commitment