BOLSETERED BIOSECURITY BUDGET MUST NOT BE A BILL FOR FARMERS

BOLSETERED BIOSECURITY BUDGET MUST NOT BE A BILL FOR FARMERS

Photo caption: Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall is concerned that tonight’s Federal Budget will place more of the onus on funding the nation’s biosecurity measures onto local farmers.

Tuesday, 9 May 2022

MEMBER for the Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall MP has welcomed an increase to biosecurity funding in tonight’s 2023-24 Federal Budget but warned that farmers must not wear the cost of the improved schemes.

“Biosecurity is vital to our NSW farmers – Australian farmers export most of what they produce and access to international markets thanks to our clean produce is critical and drives the farm gate prices they receive,” Mr Marshall said.

“NSW has led the nation on biosecurity almost singlehandedly for years with record investment through state budgets, including vital research funding.

“While an additional $1 billion dollars over the next four years has been a long time coming, it is what farmers and the sector actually need and deserve.

“Every dollar put into agriculture and particularly biosecurity reaps back that investment many times over for our economy.

“As we have seen recently, biosecurity threats now are at our doorstep with foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia and multiple incursions coming through our ports in the past few years.

“It is good to see that acknowledged through a low-value container levy to out that industry on alert to improve its ways.”

However, Mr Marshall said that Budget Paper Two (page 57) contained a concerning statement that producers of agricultural, fishery and forestry products would pay a new biosecurity levy to, in part, offset the broader investment.

“This is the federal government essentially looking to partially cost recover what should be seen as a vital investment for our overall economy, not having farmers paying for a benefit they have worked hard to earn,” Mr Marshall said.

“Biosecurity investment has been lagging from the federal government for years and NSW farmers contribute nearly a quarter of the entire value for agriculture for the nation – I’m concerned that the onus for national biosecurity will be pushed onto our NSW and local farmers who already have some of the most robust on-farm requirements thanks to strong state programs and legislation put in place by the previous State Government.”

The 2023-24 Federal Budget has committed $845 million to ongoing surveillance and regulation, $145.2 million for digital tracing systems for cargo and $40.6 million for an indigenous ranger program in northern Australia over the next four years.

“Biosecurity is not just a ‘farmer’ issue – most failures happen at the border via food brought in illegally, individuals and overwhelmingly cargo,” Mr Marshall said.

“Extra funding for biosecurity isn’t just a win for farmers it’s a win for everyone so the costs shouldn’t be pushed down the chain to the farm gate.

“We have one of the least protected agricultural sectors in the world and yet we compete equally and proudly with countries who subsidise and tariff to ensure viability, or simply don’t care about the market access they may or may not have thanks to poor biosecurity.

“Our farmers don’t want handouts, but nor do they want to be paying for something that we all benefit from – a robust economy driven by exports including agriculture and some of the freshest and safest produce on the planet.

“It is disappointing to see an increase on the sector-led levy for something that is as fundamental to the economy and our nation – it’s food security.

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