Federal Budget offers mixed benefits for farmers

Victorian farmers will continue to benefit from a Federal Government scheme that allows small business owners to instantly write off assets worth up to $20,000.

The Victorian Farmers Federation praised Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison for extending the initiative, which was due to expire at the end of June 2017, for another year in Tuesday night’s Budget (May 9 2017).

“The Federal Government’s accelerated depreciation scheme is helping to secure the future of agriculture, because when farmers invest in upgrading their businesses, entire communities benefit,” VFF President David Jochinke said.

“We’ve been given one more year of the scheme, but what we really need is for it to be extended in perpetuity to ensure real benefits for rural businesses.”

The Federal Budget also included a range of rural infrastructure investments, including $8.4 billion for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail link, and $20.2 million for the Murray Basin Rail Project, while $461.2 million was set aside for future projects by the Victorian Government.

Mr Jochinke said it was great to see the Federal Government pumping funding into infrastructure, but called on the Victorian Government to ensure rural Victoria isn’t forgotten when allocating projects for the spend.

“Victoria has a long list of rural infrastructure projects which will improve our State’s agricultural opportunities, and if there’s half a billion dollars sitting there looking for projects, the Victorian Government would do well to put more money into water and road initiatives,” he said.

But funding for rural telecommunications was conspicuously absent in the Budget, with the Mobile Black Spot Program failing to get a top-up.

Mr Jochinke said it was disappointing to see regional communications issues aren’t being properly addressed.

“Voice and data communications is an essential service that all Australians should be entitled to, but the telecommunications divide between cities and the regions is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Mr Jochinke said the VFF would continue to lobby the Federal and State governments for a boost in black spot funding.