NSW Farmers has welcomed a $1 billion commitment from the Liberal and Nationals to expand the Farm Innovation Fund if re-elected, while Labor has also committed to keeping the FIF.
The Farm Innovation Fund (FIF) helps farmers to improve productivity, manage adverse seasonal conditions and ensure sustainability with a long-term, low interest rate loan for permanent capital works. On Friday afternoon Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders announced a $1 billion expansion to the program, along with plans to increase the maximum amount available to farmers to they can adopt new technologies and use automation and robotics to address labour shortages and carbon farming infrastructure.
NSW Farmers Policy Director Kathy Rankin said the increased value of the individual loans available to farmers – from $1 million to $2 million – meant greater opportunity to have these loans make a real difference.
“This puts farmers in the driver’s seat to future proof their business, which will help secure our future food and fibre supply,” Ms Rankin said.
“The proposed expansion of a broader eligibility for capital works means that NSW producers can be on the front foot of technological innovation as well as being better prepared for the climate variability that they face – and have always had to manage – while growing domestic and international market access.”
“Allowing for small improvements to cut costs or to expand key operations will improve productivity, efficiency and supply chain management,” Ms Rankin said.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said farmers will now be able to borrow up to $2 million to identify and address risks to their businesses, improve on-farm infrastructure and ensure long-term productivity and sustainable land use.
“For almost a decade, the Farm Innovation Fund has given farmers access to long-term, low-interest loans of up to $1 million to finance projects that contribute to productivity and resilience – now we are doubling that,” said Mr Toole.
“To date, more than $840 million in loans under the Farm Innovation Fund, Seafood Innovation Fund and Drought Assistance Fund have been approved, assisting more than 8,600 NSW farmers to help launch crucial innovation and infrastructure projects.”
“Not only are we planning to increase the maximum loan amount from $1 million to $2 million, we also want to expand the program so the loan can be accessed for the adoption of new technologies, the usage of automation and robotics to address labour shortages and carbon farming infrastructure.”
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said farm productivity will always be a priority for the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government.
“The Farm Innovation Fund is evolving to keep up with changing economic and environmental challenges and to keep up with the level of innovation we are seeing in agriculture,” Mr Saunders said.
“The fund will no longer be limited to on farm infrastructure but rather the imagination of farmers who want to future proof their land, their operations and their businesses.”
Yesterday, Shadow Minister for Agriculture Mick Veitch told The Land his party is well aware of the benefits the fund has provided over the years, and would also support the FIF being continued.
“NSW Labor supports the retention of the Farm Innovation Fund and will continue to administer the fund through the Rural Assistance Authority,” he said.