NSW Farmers wants a $1 billion slice of government’s surplus, with affordable, reliable electricity and better connectivity for regional communities at the centre of its 2018-19 state budget submission.
The submission, released to government on Thursday, calls for the investment of just over $1 billion into rural and regional communities to drive growth in the agriculture sector. Association president, Derek Schoen, said the sector was at a crossroads.
“Agriculture cannot afford another ‘business as usual’ budget,” he said. “With the state’s agricultural competitiveness slipping by value of agricultural production compared to other states, now is the time to invest in the industry’s ability to grow.
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“With the NSW government forecasting budget expenditure of the forward estimates to exceed $300bn, and budget surpluses forecast to be more than $11bn over this same period, we believe the time is now right to invest the dividends of prudent budget management in rural and regional NSW.”
Some of the recommendations include:
- A $22m affordable electricity program
- $10m for rural road safety
- $45m for teleco upgrades and to extend the Mobile Black Spot Program
- $40m to manage biosecurity and to grow opportunities for trade and market access
- $30m for three Doppler radars for western regions to improve forecasting
- $20m for LLS to improve services, extension and certainty for farmers
- $13.2m to tackle rural crime and farm trespass
- $10m for improved on-farm OH&S;
- $5m for an investor-ready prospectus for a Fresh Food Precinct at Western Sydney Airport;
- $4.6m to tackle Q fever;
- $3m to partner in the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Urban Agrifood;
- $3m for a dairy underpasses program; and
- $1.5m to investigate a further crossing of the Great Dividing Range between The Central-West and the Sydney basin.
“With this budget coming just months before the next state election, farmers across the state are looking for a commitment by all politicians that they take agriculture seriously,” Mr Schoen said.
“This means no more lip service, but tangible investments in the sector.”