Three months ago, the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper was released by Barnaby Joyce. Since then we’ve seen a significant boost in confidence within the agricultural industry. With smarter, more practical policy and significant investment in the sector, it's no wonder we're seeing better farm gate returns and record soft commodity prices. Here, we provide an overview of just some of the many success stories.
Applications have now opened for drought related concessional loans. In addition to these loans, consultation is underway to fund projects in NSW to address pest animals and weeds in drought affected areas. $50 million in funding has already been delivered to work towards eradicating pests and diseases more broadly.
The Bureau of Meteorology project is in its development stages, with a view to help farmers be more prepared for drought and to assist in the management of risks though a new forecasting model, which will allow more accurate and frequent forecasts.
The ATO hotline for taxpayers in drought affected areas is also up and running, which has already received upwards of 6000 calls. In addition, Rural Financial Counselling Service providers have received $1.8 million in additional funding to assist drought affected areas. Mental health and family support in drought affected areas is also a priority, with $20 million in funding going towards expanding current services.
Breaking down the technical barriers to trade for farmers is also on the cards. This includes the appointment of Agricultural Counsellors, who will begin their work in January 2016 following thorough training and consultation.
And as you may already be aware, new Country of Origin labels have been designed and a strategy to implement this process is underway now, with an aim to have clearer and simpler information on where our food comes from.
As Barnaby suggests, “The Ag White Paper doesn’t just outline our vision for agriculture in Australia – it delivers clear and practical actions to realise that vision, actions that we are now taking.” More than 700 submissions and engagement with approximately 1000 stakeholders contributed to its development.
For more information on the Ag White Paper visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.