Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s first weeks in the job will have many on the land concerned.
His first key initiatives as Minster include
• Cutting $40 million from the Farm Financing program, a Labor Government initiative providing debt relief for farm families
• Stealing money from Landcare programs
• Scaring away much needed foreign investment with his unqualified opposition to ADM’s offer to fellow Graincorp shareholders.
Farmers deserve more clarification on Barnaby Joyce’s plans to change Labor’s $420 million Farm Finance package.
If Barnaby Joyce believes some States need more money than others he should increase funding to those states not rob it from others. And he should increase the pool of funding, not decrease it.
Barnaby Joyce also needs to guarantee that changing the structure of the program – which requires funding agreement with the States – will not delay the allocation of assistance to needy farm families.
State Ministers are right to be concerned about raids on both Farm Finance and Landcare.
Prior to the election the Coalition promised farmers more, not less.
And if Barnaby Joyce is going to continue to reject foreign investment, he needs to produce an alternative strategy for securing the hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure and R&D investment which will be required to allow farmers to capitalise on the Asia dining boom.