DAN TEHAN | Opinion | July 9, 2015

Earlier this month I welcomed the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce to Wannon for the release of the Government’s Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper.

This white paper is the first of its kind in Australia and delivers a long-term plan to make Australian agriculture smarter, stronger and more competitive in the coming century.

Rural and regional communities know that 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.

While the Coalition Government has already abolished the Carbon Tax and delivered the Growing Jobs and Small Business package, the white paper includes plans to create a simpler and fairer tax system for farmers.

By allowing banks to let farmers use Farm Managed Deposits as a business loan offset, we will reduce interest costs by up to $150 million each year.

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, meaning fairer farm gate prices.

The white paper will tackle drought by providing $250 million in Drought Concessional Loans each year, $22.8 million to increase Farm Household Allowance case management for farmers and increasing financial counselling services and improved access to community mental health.

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

The white paper will also look to capitalise on our trifecta of free trade deals by investing $30.8 million to tackle technical trade barriers that make it difficult to sell overseas and creating 5 new agricultural trade positions for new agricultural markets.

The white paper will help agriculture take advantage of a globalised world and huge demand for our clean, green product. This will see our dairy, beef, lamb, wool and wine industries profit from overseas demand.

I am also delighted that the White Paper includes $200 million to improve bio security which will help ensure Australia’s premium products remain top quality.

These are just some of the measures the Coalition is taking to build a more productive, more profitable and more sustainable Australian agriculture sector.

This white paper delivers on what our local communities need: a strong, clear plan for the future of Australian agriculture.