What Does The 24-25 Federal Budget Mean For Agribusiness?

The 2024-25 Federal Budget has been released to mixed sentiment from the agricultural sector. While climate change and renewable energy initiatives were welcomed, industry groups have criticised the absence of new infrastructure and drought funding.

So, what did the budget deliver for Agriculture?

Future Drought Fund

The 2024-25 Federal Budget highlighted an allocation of $519.1 million from the Future Drought Fund over the next eight years. This funding includes $132 million to continue the eight drought resilience adoption and innovation hubs, $83.2 million for learning and development opportunities for farmers, and $36 million in support of farmers’ mental well-being.

National Farmers’ Federation President David Jochinke said that at a glance it would appear the biggest spending spree for agriculture was for the Future Drought Fund, only $42.2 million in new money.

Read more about the Future Drought Fund announcement here.

Live Exports

Making headlines across the nation was the announcement that the biggest allocation of new funding for the sector allocated to shutting down the live sheep trade. The government announced that it will provide $107 million over five years to phase out live sheep exports by sea. The package aims to help the Australian sheep industry transition away from live exports by 1 May 2028.

Funding for this includes $64.6 million for sheep producers and the supply chain, $27.0 million to develop market opportunities and demand for sheep products domestically, and $2.6 million to improve animal welfare standards.

“The budget confirms $107 million to cancel the trade, and to add insult to injury, only $64.6 million will go to producers and the supply chain,” noted Mr Jochinke.

The NFF released a statement encouraging the government to change their stance on live sheep exports, stating: “This is a bitter blow. What we say to the Government is reverse the ban, keep your money and we’ll call it even.”

Net Zero

A $63.8 million investment in the Agriculture and Land Sector Decarbonisation Plan was also announced, intended to support initial emissions reduction efforts. The funding has been allocated over the next ten years to “ensure the agriculture and land sectors can meaningfully contribute to the whole-of-economy transition to net zero”.

The Australian Carbon Credit Union scheme will also see $48 million put towards its improvement, as part of the independent review of Australian carbon credit units.

Chinese Markets

There has been a $2 million allocation to help Australian agricultural exporters re-establish commercial ties to China, as well as to “diversify into other markets”.

Agricultural Workforce

Alongside the major commitments was $1.0 million over the next two years to pilot a program that attracts graduates into skilled agricultural work. This allocation sits alongside a $0.5 million extension for the AgCAREERSTART pilot program, which targets young people to move into agriculture.

Instant Asset Write-Off

The instant asset write-off for small businesses has been extended by a further 12 months, until June 2025. Multiple assets can be claimed, but the maximum amount per asset is $20,000.

Other Measures

  • $13.9 million to ensure the government maintains its readiness for drought.
  • $1.5 million to improve arrangements and do consumer research to understand the extent of any consumer confusion caused by plant-based and alternative protein product labelling.
  • $3.4 million to implement the government’s plan for forestry, A Future Grown in Australia: A Better Plan for Forestry and Forestry Products.
  • $16.9 million for biosecurity services at the new Western Sydney Airport, which is in addition to the $102.0 million that was already provided last year in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.
  • $3.6 million for the Digital Trade Accelerator Program that will strengthen border protection and improve digital information sharing with businesses to increase productivity and reduce costs.
  • $1.7 million to ensure the Australian Fisheries Management Authority can protect our northern waters from the growing threat of illegal fishing, which is a risk to our fishing industry, our biosecurity and our border security.

Industry Response

While rhetoric from the government has focused on a determination to “stand with farmers and regional communities”, industry responses say the announcements are a far cry from support.

GrainGrowers Chair Rhys Turton said while the budget delivers some positive initiatives, rural industries were looking for a “cost of production” budget to address some of the underlying pressures now being felt across the rural sector.

In a Media Release from the organisation on 15 May 2024, he noted that the funding was “not at the level to make a significant difference to operational efficiencies”.

Mr Turton noted that, at a time when the sector has been suffering from extended worker shortages, the $1 million funding for the AgCARRERESTART pilot “falls short of meaningful assistance to address this issue”.

The National Farmers Federation was scathing in its review of the budget, stating the budget “twisted the knife into Australian agriculture”, and issuing a vote of no confidence in the Albanese Government.

“This is a painful budget for Australian farmers and this is a kick in the guts when we are already down,” said Mr Jochinke on behalf of the NFF.

Sources: NAB, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Grain Growers, NFF

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