The gains for farmers in this year's Budget

THE FEDERAL pre-election Budget has been announced with the nation’s farmers receiving a boost with the instant tax write off for small businesses being lifted from $20,000 to $35,000 and more funding toward natural disasters and foreign market access.
The gains for farmers in this year's Budget The gains for farmers in this year's Budget The gains for farmers in this year's Budget The gains for farmers in this year's Budget The gains for farmers in this year's Budget

A $3.9 billion Emergency Response Fund has been announced.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg used his pre-election Budget to announce a $3.9 billion Emergency Response Fund.

Minister Frydenberg said the fund would ensure additional resourcing is available to support future natural disaster recovery efforts.

New legislation is required to determine how and when the funds can be accessed.

One of the largest agriculture-specific spends of the 2019-20 budget is a $30 million pilot program to recognise and incentivise biodiversity on farms.

$4 million for a biodiversity certificate scheme, which would seek to establish a market for biodiversity credits will be created.

The commitment has generally been welcomed by farmers.

The 2019-20 Budget has also committed $29.4 million over four years to increase Australia's agricultural exports.

The package includes money to increase market access, improve access to plant genetics for the horticulture sector and more than $11 million to minimise the impact of non-tariff trade barriers.

It was also announced any business with an annual turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to an instant asset write-off to the value of $35,000.

When it comes to farm labour the government announced a 12-month pilot program it said would address seasonal worker shortages in three selected regions, known for farm worker shortages.

It also committed $24 million to incentivise Australians to take up seasonal work opportunities, by expanding the existing Harvest Labour Service and committed $1.9 million, over four years, to develop a National Agriculture Workforce Strategy.

It follows recent announcements about changes to expand regional skilled and backpacker visas.

The National Farmers' Federation call for a comprehensive national drought policy has been overlooked in this year's Budget.

However, the government has committed more than $3 million to increase access to the Farm Household Allowance.

The changes mean, from July 1, farmers who put the income from the forced sale of livestock into a Farm Management Deposit, will have the proceeds exempt from an income means test to access the assistance.

The 2019-20 budget also includes a $5 million grant for the Country Women's Association to help farmers and families that experience hardship due to drought, and $4.2 million to maintain a National Drought Map.

The Bureau of Meteorology will benefit from $28 million over four years to install new radars and rain gauges in Queensland.

Earlier this year, the Government legislated a $3.9 billion Future Drought Fund, funded off-budget, to set aside $100 million a year for drought-preparedness.

The contentious new Biosecurity Imports Levy, initially expected to be charged on shipping containers, has been delayed by three months.

The levy, announced in last year's budget, was expected to commence on July 1, but this year's Budget shows the start date has been extended until September.

The delay, which the Government will use to consult further on the design of the levy, is expected to cut revenue by $20 million.

An increase in biosecurity funding had strong support from farmers, but transport, logistics and shipping companies have called for the levy to be axed.