Keeping ag safe from biosecurity threats is a major part of the rural initiatives in this year's NSW 2022-2023 Budget with a $164m spend on exotic disease prevention.
NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders told The Land that world-leading research by scientists at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) at Menangle was tackling major threats such as lumpy skin disease and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
A vaccine against lumpy skin disease could possibly be developed by the end of the year, he revealed. This would all be done through RNA research, out-in-the-field-testing, meaning no live viruses would need to be imported into Australia.
The EMAI was working closely with Canada on this important part of the research, supported by industry.
Mr Saunders said he had never seen the outlook for the ag industry as positive as it was now in NSW, with young farmers now wanting to stay on the family farm, with good seasons, high commodity prices and support to help farmers meet rising input costs.
"When you look at agriculture over all, the threats are there, but the confidence has never been higher, young people are already returning to the family farm, people are looking to build it, not shrink it."
The new EMAI facility was using cutting-edge RNA technology, to do paddock testing for viruses. "They can do a PCR test in the field and get a result quickly with no need to go back to the lab.
"By the end of the year we will be in a strong position with the research in place that we will have a vaccine for lumpy skin."
Lumpy skin is a major virus threat to the cattle industry.
There will be greater focus on RNA technology as a whole, with Canada a close partner and industry.
There was also major support for flood and drought recovery packages in NSW, including for the timber industry, with a boost for North Coast forestry projects after the fires, including $60m for forestry roads and $10m to subsidise haulage costs.
Mr Saunders pinpointed biosecurity as one of the major areas the government was funding, including greater controls at the NSW-Queensland border using artificial intelligence to monitor stock disease threats.
Highlights from the NSW Budget for primary industries includes:
The Government says it can explain a decrease in the Local Land Services' budget as a management transfer.
"The budget papers show what looks like a decrease in LLS funding from this FY to next FY from $297.9m to $258.8m (a total of $39.1m), however this is not the case," a spokesperson said.
"The purported decrease is actually due to machinery of government changes which saw the Soil Conservation Service and the responsibility for the Wild Dog Fence move from the remit of the Minister for Agriculture to the Deputy Premier.
"This meant that the funding for those programs also transferred with the changed Ministerial responsibility. This investment totalled $63m.
"Additionally, the payment for the Shenua land buy back ($12m) has also left the books this FY and so is not included in the LLS books next year
"In fact the LLS budget has actually increased next FY by $35.9m (or 15.9%) to $258.8m
"This includes an additional $163m over the next four years to shore up LLS' future."
Meantime, the Government announced an extra 26,000 people are expected to be helped in the $149.5 million expansion of the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS).
The subsidy for people seeking accommodation will also be doubled and the scheme expanded to include services such as non-commercial clinical trials, high risk foot clinics, highly specialised publicly funded dental health clinics and ocularists.
journalist and author
journalist and author
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.