NSW Farmers President James Jackson said Agriculture must be the key industry to leverage investment and drive jobs from a big regional spend in the NSW 20/2021 Budget
James Jackson said rural and regional NSW have fared well in the budget, with strong investment in regional roads and freight networks, regional schools and local jobs.
“After the challenges of long-term drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 movement travel restrictions the significant announcements to aid resilience and recovery for the agriculture sector and regional NSW in the Budget is welcome,” Mr Jackson said
“The additional commitment of $96 million to biosecurity is also good news. Weed and pest management, funding for aerial baiting, targeted feral animal control and prioritising noxious weed control will be a boost for farmers across the state.”
“Similarly, $700 million plus commitment to sustainable, secure and healthy water resources will aid recovery and future resilience for both farmers and country towns.”
“Of equal importance is $50 million to progress and extend research under the World Class Food and Fibre program. “Coupled with a further commitment under the Snowy Hydro Legacy Scheme for Special Activation precincts and the Regional Digital Connectivity Fund, agriculture is well placed to deliver on the focus on regional jobs in this year’s budget.”
Mr Jackson said the increased threshold for payroll tax, a $1,500 voucher for small businesses to offset the cost of government fees, and additional funding for skills development are important for agricultural businesses.
The budget includes an additional $300 million for the Regional Growth Fund and $100 million for the Regional Job Creation Fund.
“Now is the opportune time use the agriculture sector to help the economic recovery and to drive jobs growth in the regions,” Mr Jackson said.
“Let use these funds to invest in value adding and processing of local food and fibre in the regions. This will create opportunities for farm diversification, create regional jobs and further enhance food security in NSW. It’s a win-win.”
“Real opportunities exist right now for the establishment of small scale processing plants close to growers to extend product freshness and shelf-life and support market expansion.”
“The agriculture sector has shown immense resilience through drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic and is now set for a critical role in a jobs led recovery for NSW.”
Mr Jackson said it is also a healthy budget for health services in NSW, with significant upgrades to regional hospitals and health facilities and support or mental health services.
However, NSW Farmers is concerned by the NSW Government’s appetite to overhaul the stamp duty tax scheme in favour of a land tax.
“NSW Farmers will certainly be highlighting some of the unintended consequences for the ag sector from potential stamp duty reform. There must be flexibility for a sector which is cyclical in nature and exposed to climate variability,” Mr Jackson said.