With welcomed investment in biosecurity, funding for national soil monitoring, soil carbon technology and methodology and an extension to the instant asset write off, the 2021 budget will bring benefits to farms across Australia although it reflects the complexities faced by farmers operating mixed enterprises. With the grains industry poised to play its part in economic recovery, the budget showcases some smart investment and some missed opportunities.
GrainGrowers has been calling for Australia’s biosecurity objectives to be supported through an ongoing process of risk mitigation and promotion of improvements to biosecurity measures. To reach the ambitious 2030 goal of $100 billion, the significant investment announcement is welcome news for growers and essential to ensuring Australian grains can continue their pest-free and high-quality reputation in profitable international markets.
With $237.9 million announced for a National Soil Strategy including rebates for farmers that share the results of soil testing this is also important recognition of the work that takes place on-farm.
“Through the soil initiatives outlined in tonight’s budget, we hope to see delivery of national standards for soil data collection, analysis and use. Regional benchmarking would enable growers to compare their soil conditions and give them access to the data needed to track any trends and improvements in soil quality.” said Brett Hosking, GrainGrowers Chair.
“As our Grains Sustainability Framework has shown us soil health is a priority goal and it is in everyone’s interest to improve the health and productivity of soil.”
$4.2 million has been provided as an initial investment into Agricultural Innovation Australia to develop strategies for cross sectoral priorities including exports, climate resilience, biosecurity, and digital agriculture. With a large percentage of growers producing multiple commodities, this investment will help unlock the R&D solutions not just for each commodity, but for Australian agriculture.
Other announcements that will impact grain growers include extension of the instant asset write-off until June 2023 enabling growers to immediately deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets, critical when considering the expenses of machinery required to operate effectively on-farm.
With GrainGrowers calling for mobile connectivity funding, it was pleasing to see $84.8 million over two years from 2021-22 to the Regional Connectivity Program to support the delivery of reliable, affordable, and innovative digital services and technologies in regional and remote Australia.
“Tonight’s budget is delivered as Australia looks to manage the uncertainties of the pandemic.”
“Our growers are more accustomed to any others about managing variability in their businesses and we welcome some of the opportunities the 2021 budget provides, that will help growers navigate these into the future.” said Hosking.
“It would be great to see more done to help open up new markets for growers who can often bear the brunt of international relations.”