GrainGrowers highlights its budget wish list

GrainGrowers highlights its budget wish list

Cropping
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Trade and market access, telecommunications and drought are some of the areas GrainGrowers hopes the government considers in its budget.

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David McKeon, GrainGrowers chief executive, is lobbying for funding for projects important to the grains industry to be included in the upcoming Federal budget.

David McKeon, GrainGrowers chief executive, is lobbying for funding for projects important to the grains industry to be included in the upcoming Federal budget.

A BOOST to trade and market access and the crop chemical regulator highlight GrainGrowers' wishlist in the lead up to the Federal budget.

GrainGrowers' chief executive Dave McKeon said significant export market opportunities existed for the Aussie grains industry but added further investment would be needed if the industry was to unlock the true potential of the chances.

"It is important that government continues to work effectively with industry and adequately resources an ambitious agenda to deliver enhanced trade and market access outcomes," Mr McKeon said.

Mr McKeon said the Chinese decisions to impose prohibitive tariffs on Australian barley highlighted this was an imperative issue.

"The events of 2020 have reinforced the need for the Australian government to be committed to the development and implementation of positive outcomes for the Australian grains industry and its customers," he said.

In the short-term, to help the barley sector recover, GrainGrowers wants a $20 million industry recovery fund set up to accelerate opportunities elsewhere, including securing new markets or expansion of existing ones.

Mr McKeon said funding was also needed for the elimination of non-tariff barriers impeding Australian grains exports, which is a major problem, with the use of clauses such as maximum residue limits (MRLs) and weed seed numbers often appearing to have more to do with market dynamics than a genuine concern about potential import risks.

On the crop chemical regulation front, Mr McKeon said GrainGrowers acknowledged the work of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) but would like to see more funds allocated.

"This would allow the regulatory process to move quicker and make Australia a more attractive destination for investment for the big crop protection companies."

Mr McKeon also said the perennial topic of freight and infrastructure was another area GrainGrowers was keen to see funded.

"Grain supply chain costs are significant, making up roughly 30 per cent of the value of Australian export grains at port," he said.

He said the organisation wanted to see projects that would improve freight efficiency and cut those costs, principally by removing grain freight bottlenecks.

Mr McKeon also said more work was needed in the telecommunications space, especially to eliminate blackspots and slow internet speeds.

"An NFF survey found that more than a third of farmers reported no mobile service across most of the land they farm, including 7 per cent who receive no coverage at all," he said.

Now that rain has fallen over many parts of the country drought is no longer the pressing issue it was 12 months ago, but Mr McKeon said it made it an even better time to serious tackle the problem.

"Drought in Australia is something that is not going away and we need to have systems in place to help minimise the impact when it does happen."

Mr McKeon also said he would like to see the issue of market information tackled via an Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) review.

"The Australian grains industry now has an uneven supply chain where there are large regional monopolies, which has created distortionary information asymmetry, placing Australian grain farmers at a disadvantage when making decisions," he said.

The Federal budget is due to be handed down on October 6.

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