Ag's role in economy must be recognised in Budget

Ags role in economy must be recognised in Budget

Opinion
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The NSW budget must reflect the strong economic impact on the state

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As the state continues its economic recovery from the setbacks of COVID-19, NSW Farmers is calling for programs and initiatives in the 2021-22 NSW Budget to reflect agriculture's role as an 'engine room' of the NSW economy.

Investing in the future of agriculture means adapting to new situations and mitigating the risk of emergent threats. Innovation will be key to the NSW agriculture sector reaching its target of $30 billion by 2030. Research and development can drive innovative solutions to known challenges, such as drought and biosecurity risks, as well as build new opportunities in areas such as value adding to enable business diversification.

The NSW Government can play a role in balancing the costs associated with adapting to new conditions. Technology will be increasingly important to farm businesses as tools such as drones offer significant efficiency boosting benefits, and rebates would make access to these more equitable.

Government rebates recognise the value of the farming contribution to pest management. There's an immediate need to manage the intensifying mouse plague. Our horticulture members have been calling for rebates to help cover the cost of flying fox netting for some time now.

A growing challenge for agriculture will be managing potential land use conflicts, particularly with urban encroachment and the installation of linear infrastructure. With five new renewable energy zones set for NSW, we need a planning framework that identifies and protects valuable agricultural land. NSW Farmers is calling for two Rural Land Use Officers to facilitate communication with community and landholders on land-use issues.

Workforce is an ongoing issue for agriculture. There's an immediate need to facilitate the movement of workers to NSW, and we urge the NSW Government to extend the subsidisation of hotel quarantine costs for agricultural workers. To foster a sustainable future, government and industry should partner to promote opportunities in agriculture.

  • James Jackson, NSW Farmers president

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