The Member for Forrest Nola Martino has welcomed the release of the Commonwealth Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Mrs Marino said the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is another step forward in our plan to build a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.

“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.”

The White Paper and the 2015 Budget deliver a better tax system for farm businesses by enabling:

  • banks to allow farmers to use FMDs as a business loan offset, reducing interest costs estimated at up to $150 million a year, from 1 July 2016;
  • farmers to opt back into income tax averaging after 10 years, from 1 July 2016;
  • farmers to double their Farm Management Deposits (FMDs) to $800,000, from 1 July 2016;
  • immediate tax deduction for fencing;
  • immediate tax deduction of the cost of new water infrastructure; and
  • accelerated three-year depreciation of capital expenditure on fodder assets.

The Government will also invest $11.4 million to boost ACCC engagement with the agricultural sector including a new Commissioner expert in agriculture.

“It is essential that agricultural producers and processors are not overpowered by those further down the supply chain, so I welcome these steps to empower farmers and processors” Mrs Marino said.

Australia will always stand by farmers in drought. Including initiatives announced in the 2015 Budget, the White Paper provides long-term support for famers when they need it most:

  • up to $250 million in Drought Concessional Loans each year for 11 years;
  • $22.8 million to increase Farm Household Allowance case management for farmers;
  • increased financial counselling services and improved access to community mental health;
  • access for farmers to their Farm Management Deposits when needed, without losing tax concessions;
  • $35 million for local infrastructure projects to help communities suffering due to drought;
  • $25.8 million over four years to manage pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas; and
  • advice and help from the Australian Taxation Office.

Mrs Marino also welcomed the Government agenda to open new export markets, and protect Australia’s highly prized biosecurity status, which underpins our valuable exports.

“It is essential for agriculture in the South West that we get better access to niche markets in Asia” Mrs Marino said. “This will secure the future for our agricultural industries here.”

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

Those wanting to know more about the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper should visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au