Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Farmers will have extra tools to manage drought, cut emissions and deal with the mental toll of life on the land, as the federal government seeks to shift the focus away from fury over a ban on live sheep exports.

The 2024/25 budget has delivered $789 million over the next eight years for the agricultural sector, with a keen focus on managing and mitigating the threats of climate change.

“Farmers are on the frontline of climate change, facing more intense and frequent natural disasters and weather extremes which is already hurting the bottom line,” Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said on Tuesday.

“The Albanese government is committed to helping farmers and regional communities across the country become more productive and more profitable, while also reducing their emissions.”

New money from the Future Drought Fund – $519 million over eight years – will help farmers and communities manage and adapt to climate change.

The majority of that funding will be spent on continuing locally-led drought resilience and innovation hubs.

Nearly $64 million will be spent over ten years to support emissions reduction across agriculture as Australia moves to net zero by 2050.

Farmers’ mental wellbeing and the social resilience of rural communities will be supported by $36 million over four years from the Future Drought Fund Communities Program.

The Ag Career Start pilot, which encourages young people to pursue jobs in the sector, has been extended for another two years, amid some concerns the program would be scrapped.

The series of future-proofing packages comes days after the announcement to ban live sheep exports by sea from May 2028.

The budget provides $107 million over five years for the phase out, including $64 million to expand local processing, provide producers with financial counselling and support community wellbeing.

Promotion of sheep products and development of new market opportunities will by funded in a $27 million package.

National Farmers Federation has responded to the budget by telling the Government to keep their money.

National Farmers’ Federation President David Jochinke said while at a glance it would appear the biggest spending spree for agriculture was for the Future Drought Fund, only $42.2 million is new money.

“Peel back the surface and the disappointment appears. The biggest spend in ‘agriculture’ is not even for farmers, it’s appeasing the extreme activists and to generate inner city votes at the next election.”

“The budget confirms $107 million to cancel the trade, and to add insult to injury, only $64.6 million will go to producers and the supply chain.”

“Farmers from across the nation are still reeling from Saturday’s announcement the live sheep trade will be wiped out in just four years.”

“This is a bitter blow. What we say to the Government is reverse the ban, keep your money and we’ll call it even.”

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