7 July, 2015
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, welcomed the Australian Government's Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper as an investment in Tasmanian farmers and a boost for local economies.
Senator Colbeck said the White Paper will deliver the confidence that Tasmanian industries need to remain profitable into the future.
"This government is building modern water, transport and communications infrastructure for the 21st century including a $500m investment in water infrastructure," Senator Colbeck.
"Tasmania has 12 per cent of the nation's fresh water resources, but these are not evenly distributed across the State.
"This is why we have committed $60 million to the Tasmanian Irrigation's Tranche II irrigation schemes to deliver 40,000 megalitres of new water to agriculture across Tasmania.
"There is an important $30.8 million investment in enhancing our market access internationally - an investment that will help producers in Tasmania and across the country make the most of Australia's reputation as a reliable, clean and green producer of agricultural products.
"This money will go towards reducing technical barriers to trade in key markets, and to establish five new agriculture counsellors in overseas markets - to help promote our products and the robustness of our assurance systems, and to help us understand what our international customers want.
"Tasmanian primary producers will also be able to double their Farm Management Deposits (FMDs) to $800,000 from 1 July 2016 and banks will be able to allow farmers to use FMDs as a loan offset, reducing interest costs.
"ABARES has estimated that if all FMD holdings are used to offset loans, the benefit to the farm sector in interest savings nationally could amount to $150 million a year.
"The White Paper provides farmers with greater flexibility to manage taxed income by allowing farmers to opt back into income tax averaging 10 years after they had elected to leave.
"These initiatives are on top of the depreciation measures for fencing, fodder storage and water infrastructure announced at the Budget in May this year."
Other White Paper measures that could also benefit Tasmanians include:
$11.4m to boost Australian Competition and Consumer Commission engagement with the agriculture sector
$100 million for pest and weed management and eradication
$2.75 billion in concessional drought loans
$200 million for increased biosecurity surveillance and science
"This White Paper is truly a once in a generation plan for agriculture and our farmers to boost farm profits," Senator Colbeck said.
"I encourage all those with a connection to the land to read the White Paper to find out what is in it for them."
The White Paper is available at agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au