Budget delivers on biosecurity to boost trade

Budget 2018-19: biosecurity and trade focus


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Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. Photo: AAP Image, Mick Tsikas

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. Photo: AAP Image, Mick Tsikas

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Littleproud looking to help farmers tap offshore markets in Budget.

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The Federal Budget ups Australia's biosecurity funding to the tune of $121.6 million, while exports are targeted with $51.3m to increase growth.

The country's biosecurity system will see a $101.6m injection across four years to deliver four key initiatives to help protect the country's pest and disease status, while $20m will be allocated for the management of fruit fly in Tasmania.

The initiatives include trialling new detection technologies at the border, strengthening priority pest and disease planning and response and improved targeted assurance, verification and enforcement for biosecurity and imported food.

The fruit fly initiative for northern Tasmania will allow the state government to bolster its biosecurity response, including surveillance and work to prove areas are fruit fly free.

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Eleven agricultural counsellor positions will be created as part of the $51.3m over four years to ensure growth and competitiveness in agriculture and food exports.

The funding will see five positions in Vietnam, Malaysia, the Middle East, China and Thailand and fund a further six positions in key export markets. It will expand the overseas network to 22 positions in total.

Counsellors have proved successful in reopening trade links. Last year imports of infant formula from Gippsland, Victoria into China were suspended but with the work of these counsellors a rapid reinstatement of the trade occurred within a month. 

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said trade was key to the future of Australia's farmers, and the prosperity of regional and rural towns. 

“We have committed $51.3m to grow agricultural exports, including an extra six agricultural counsellors to support market access and provide a stronger representation in key emerging markets," Mr Littleproud said.

“Agricultural counsellors are unsung heroes of market access, strengthening our relationships with key trading partners and working through trade barriers, ensuring farmers see the benefits of our trade deals back through the farm gate." 

Mr Littleproud said the $121.6m boost to the biosecurity system would support Australia's trade push.

"It will ensure we can protect our clean, green pest and disease status, including $20 million to fight fruit fly in Tasmania," he said. 

The Budget will invest up to $6.6m in 2019-20 in reserach, development and extension, national co-ordination and key infrastructure to help better manage priority established pest animal and weed species. 

This will build on the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper funding to improve the management of established pest animals and weeds.

Mr Littleproud said this would continue the fight against the "scourge of pests and weeds which cost our farmers around $4 billion in livestock losses and disease and weed controls each year". 

The Budget includes $10m for one element of the controversial relocation of Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to Barnaby Joyce's elecorate in Armidale.

It will see the money spent over three years to digitise its database.

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's commitment to establish a National Forestry Industry Plan gets $20m over four years to underpin growth in Australia's renewable timber and wood-fibre industry.

ABARES will get $4.7m in new funding for an expanded supplementary survey to collect data on agriculture's on-farm workforce and challenges in recruiting and retaining staff.

“This government wants to ensure farmers have access to the labour force they need to get their produce off the tree or vine and to market. That’s why we are expanding an ABARES study into seasonal agricultural labour demand and supply," Mr Littleproud said.

There will be a further $6.3m over two years to extend the improved access to agricultural and veterinary chemicals program that commenced in 2014-15 and $3.6m to extend the Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Partnership grants program for a further five years.

The  biosecurity initiatives draw on recommendations from Dr Wendy Craik's independent review of Australia's biosecurity system.

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