Farmers welcome ‘essential services’ but question how they’ll grow
THE Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has welcomed the delayed Victorian Budget 2019-20, noting some positive commitments but a number of glaring funding gaps for agriculture.
“We are pleased to see significant resourcing for essential areas such as biosecurity and fit-for-purpose roads, which benefit all Victorians,” said Mr David Jochinke, VFF President.
“We also welcome the Government’s focus on farm safety with a campaign to promote on-farm safety, farmer health checks, and two additional farm safety officers at the VFF to help us drive a culture of zero accidents and deaths on farm.
“The VFF congratulates the Government on its $7.2 million in support for agriculture careers, including training for shearers, also the cutting of regional payroll tax to 25 per cent of the metropolitan rate by 2022-23 is also great news for growing regional businesses.
“While there are some significant promises, the Government has missed an opportunity to fund dedicated agriculture liaison officers in Victoria Police to help fight farm crime.
“We could not find any mention of the rural and regional energy network, or desperately needed rates relief while we wait for the rates review to unfold.
“Many of our farmers across the State are still experiencing drought and it was frustrating not to see a greater focus on support and adaptation,” he said.
“While the project is funded, it is disappointing that there is no clear commitment on a completion date for the Murray Basin Rail Project”.
“Premier Andrews noted that this Budget delivers ‘wealth, momentum and opportunity’, we would like to see this apply to all communities and industries across Victoria.
“If we are to continue as the ‘strongest performing economy in the country’, agriculture needs to be front and centre as one of our greatest economic assets.
“We cannot afford to ignore the contribution agriculture makes and the conditions required to help it grow.”