Farmers need more than a rail line

The agriculture sector will be underwhelmed by the Turnbull Government’s second Budget. As with previous budget measures the devil is in the detail.

After four years Barnaby Joyce is yet to provide a strategic plan for the agriculture sector.

Now farmers have been told to be happy with the Inland Rail project which the former Labor Government first funded and the Coalition Government cut in its first three Budgets.

Failed concessional loans programs remain a centrepiece, but they will be administered by a new, inaccurately named Rural Investment Corporation rather than the states.

The Government still has no comprehensive drought policy but those who have reached the limit of their Farm Household Allowance entitlement will be able to go into more debt by taking out a concessional loan.

Barnaby Joyce has failed to restore funding to the Rural Research and Development for Profit Program which was recently slashed by $19.5 million.

But we know that Barnaby Joyce’s relocation pork barrel of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) will hit the Agriculture budget by tens of millions and is possibly coming at the expense of agriculture research and development.

Our food processing sector is in crisis, abattoirs are laying off shifts, dairy companies are closing plants, and agri-food imports are outpacing growth in exports and yet the Government has no response.

For the past four years the Turnbull Government has failed to develop a comprehensive plan for Australian agriculture. Nothing in the 2017 Budget has changed that.

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