05 July 2015

White Paper is a strong plan for local farmers

Sarah Henderson, Federal Member for Corangamite, today welcomed the release of the Commonwealth Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

“For the first time, Australia has a long-term plan to make agriculture stronger”, said Ms Henderson.

Ms Henderson said the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is a vital part of our plan to build a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.

“A strong agriculture sector contributes to a strong economy—and that means more jobs, more exports, higher incomes and better services to the community.

“We’re determined to make the sector even more competitive and to deliver practical actions that will keep our farmers and farming families profitable and resilient.

“We are lowering tax, cutting red and green tape, building infrastructure, encouraging trade, and supporting business to innovate and create jobs.

“I’m pleased that the Government is delivering lower, simpler and fairer taxes for our farmers.

“We have already abolished the Carbon Tax and the Growing Jobs and Small Business package announced in the Budget will benefit 97 per cent of farmers”, said Ms Henderson.

The White Paper and the 2015 Budget deliver a better tax system for farm businesses by enabling:

  • banks to allow farmers to use FMDs as a business loan offset, reducing interest costs estimated at up to $150 million a year, from 1 July 2016;
  • farmers to opt back into income tax averaging after 10 years, from 1 July 2016;
  • farmers to double their Farm Management Deposits (FMDs) to $800,000, from 1 July 2016;
  • immediate tax deduction for fencing;
  • immediate tax deduction of the cost of new water infrastructure; and
  • accelerated three-year depreciation of capital expenditure on fodder assets.

The Government will also invest $11.4 million to boost ACCC engagement with the agricultural sector including a new Commissioner expert in agriculture.

“A more farm-savvy and proactive ACCC will encourage fair‑trading and strengthen competition in agricultural supply chains”

The White Paper builds on the Government’s investments to build 21st century water, transport and communications infrastructure, including a new National Water Infrastructure Fund.

“The Government’s $500 million National Water Infrastructure Fund will provide future water security for our farmers”

Ms Henderson said “I also welcome the Government’s announcement of an additional $60 million on top of the $100 million Mobile Black Spot Programme to improve mobile coverage across regional Australia.”

Australia will always stand by farmers in drought. Including initiatives announced in the 2015 Budget, the White Paper provides long-term support for famers when they need it most:

  • up to $250 million in Drought Concessional Loans each year for 11 years;
  • $22.8 million to increase Farm Household Allowance case management for farmers;
  • increased financial counselling services and improved access to community mental health;
  • access for farmers to their Farm Management Deposits when needed, without losing tax concessions;
  • $35 million for local infrastructure projects to help communities suffering due to drought;
  • $25.8 million over four years to manage pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas; and
  • advice and help from the Australian Taxation Office.

Ms Henderson said the Government is opening new export markets and will protect Australia’s highly prized biosecurity status, which underpins our valuable exports.

“The Government has successfully delivered the trifecta of free trade agreements with Japan, the Republic of Korea and China – this will deliver new opportunities for our farmers”, said Ms Henderson

“I am delighted that the White Paper includes $200 million to improve biosecurity which will help ensure Australia’s premium products remain top quality and $30.8 million to break down technical barriers to trade and appointing five new overseas Agriculture Counsellors”, said Ms Henderson

“Together we are building a stronger, more productive, more profitable and more sustainable Australian agriculture sector.”

Sarah Henderson encouraged farmers and residents wanting to know more about the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au

5 July 2015