On Saturday (June 4), the federal government unveiled the much-awaited Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, which outlined a number of key initiatives aimed at boosting the industry.
In total, the Commonwealth is investing $4 billion in agriculture across five priority areas. Let’s examine some of the funding available, starting with support for farm insurance.
Drought protection and risk management
Drought is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture, which is why the government has committed $29.9 million towards farm insurance advice and risk assessment grants.
A further $3.3 million is on offer to give farmers more accurate and frequent seasonal forecasts in order to better prepare for potential disasters. In-drought support includes $250 million a year in concessional loans, while $35 million will go towards infrastructure projects to help regional communities cope with low rainfall.
Technology is already on the rise in Australia’s agricultural sector – and the government is trying to kickstart momentum. A $100 million extension to the Rural R&D for Profit Programme to 2021-22 should ensure innovation makes it from the laboratory to the farm as quickly as possible.
Another $100 million be available for pest and disease mitigation spending, including $50 million for emergency services and $50 million to provide better tools and control methods for animals and weeds.
The government is keen to reduce the tax and regulatory burdens on farmers, as well as offer more support for agricultural competitiveness.
As such, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will receive $11.4 million to boost engagement with businesses in the industry, while a two-year $13.8 million pilot program aims to educate farmers on collective bargaining and innovative business models.
NFF welcomes changes
The white paper outlined many more schemes that will provide an important boost for the industry in the decades to come. The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) described the announcement as an “important day for agriculture”.
NFF President Brent Finlay said the document is the culmination of over two years’ hard work and more than 200 submissions from stakeholders. He also praised the government’s policies regarding increased support for crop insurance.
“The government has committed to match costs of up to $2,500 for advice and assessment on insurance options, including multi-peril crop insurance,” he explained. “This is an important preparedness measure, and will be welcome news for many farmers.”
If you would like to discuss how the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper affects your farm insurance, please contact your local MGA office today.