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    Murra Warra farmer and VFF president David Jochinke.

Budget wins approval from farmers

Victoria’s peak farming body is confident an agricultural focus in this year’s Federal Budget will equip the industry to help lead Australia to economic recovery. 

Victorian Farmers Federation president and Wimmera farmer David Jochinke said farmers were generally satisfied with key spending commitments to help young Australians work in agriculture and for important water infrastructure.

But he said a disappointment was neglect of a Murray Basin Rail Project. 

“At a time of great uncertainty and instability across Australia, agriculture continues to be an industry for growth as demonstrated by this commitment in the budget,” he said.

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“We applaud the $17.4-million invested to provide $6000 grants to help workers to immediately relocate to regional areas to fill the estimated 26,000 vacant jobs.

“It’s good news for farmers and the industry with the investment for Australians to pursue careers in agriculture and the wage subsidy for employers to help employ young unemployed workers on farms.”

Mr Jochinke said farmers would welcome $50-million in funding for ‘the popular’ Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme, but for farmers to benefit the State Government
needed to match the federal funding.

“The single most important asset to farmers is water and we’re pleased to see the $2-billion commitment in grants to build new pipelines, weirs and dams,” he said. 

Mr Jochinke said while funding to boost regional telecommunications was welcome, this needed to be the start of further substantial funding for the regions.

“Regional communications and connectivity is an essential service and an enormous issue in the country,” he said.

“Issues such as lack of phone coverage and internet availability is a big barrier facing modern agriculture that the government must fix.”

He said VFF, in its disappointment in the ‘persistent disregard’ for the Murray Basin Rail Project, continued a call for the release of a business case. 

“For the Murray Basin Rail Project to miss out on funding is incredibly disappointing,” he said.

“The onus is now on the Victorian government to show leadership and commit to funding the project as promised as we enter its sixth year of construction.

“The Victorian government has found billions of dollars to fund cost overruns for metro projects, so we are disappointed it did not put a proposal to the Federal Government meeting the normal 80-20 infrastructure funding split.” 

Mr Jochinke said other key budget announcements involving agriculture were –

• $328-million congestion-busting package for agricultural exporters;

• $1.5-billion Modern Manufacturing Package, including a focus on food and beverage and in tackling supply chain vulnerabilities;

• $36.6-million to continue the statutory review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act;

• Confirmation of $250.7-million for fuel security aimed at increasing onshore diesel storage by 40 percent;

• $269.6-million for the Murray Darling Communities investment package;

• $95.4-million for further soil carbon research and methodology;

• $31.5-million to improve ag-
vet-chem access and approvals; and

• Expanded instant asset write-off scheme.

The entire October 14, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!