State Treasurer acknowledges agriculture essential to leading post-COVID recovery

Agriculture’s role in leading Queensland’s post-COVID economic recovery was recognised as the State Government delivered its 2020 budget to Parliament.

While it was a budget with no surprises, it did deliver on the promises the Government made during the recent election campaign.

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said agriculture was well placed to support the economic recovery task and AgForce would engage positively with the Government on how to best support activity and employment in agriculture.

“We were pleased to see the Treasurer recognise the essential role agriculture plays in protecting our economy and the role of the regions in Queensland’s current and future prosperity,” Mr Guerin said.

“The importance of agriculture to every single person in this State and right around the country has been brought home since COVID reached our shores.

“Queensland agriculture continued producing the world-class food and fibre we rely on when there were fears from some in the community we might actually run out.

“AgForce sees, and the State Government acknowledges, the vital role agriculture has to play in taking our State forward in challenging times and we are enthusiastic about the potential to work constructively with the Government to allow our industries to do just that.”

Mr Guerin said the industry welcomed the Government’s commitments for agriculture and rural Queensland, including $81.61 million to be allocated over three years from 2021/22 to reduce irrigation scheme water charges for the State’s farmers, including sugarcane, and further dam and regional town water security investment.

However, Mr Guerin said that while the Government had reaffirmed its commitment to drought reform after this current drought, it was light on detail around what that reform looked like, while at the same time allocating less funding to the current situation many producers find themselves in.

“Two thirds of Queensland is still drought declared and La Nina is yet to deliver any rain,” Mr Guerin said.

“Yet the assumption within the budget seems to be that the rains will come and solve the expenditure problem for the Government without them having to provide any further funding.

“AgForce will therefore be doing everything it can to work closely with Government to guarantee continuing steps and investment within drought reform, particularly for the 2021/22 budget, to ensure ongoing assistance applies across affected sectors, is effective, and increases resilience.”

Mr Guerin said AgForce will also be seeking a clearer funding pathway for the previously announced and strongly supported “Inland Bruce Highway” which, if fully funded, will make freight movements safer and much more efficient.

“Additional funding commitments to biosecurity will also assist agriculture to maintain trade relationships, diversify current agribusinesses, and support export market access. All vital components if agriculture is to play its full role in our State’s economic recovery,” Mr Guerin said.

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