26 May 2023
Yesterday's budget released by the state government was austere for the farming industry, delivering very little good news.
The President of Tasmania’s peak farming body, Ian Sauer, said the budget was largely an empty cupboard for Tasmanian Farmers and failed to inject meaningful assistance into the sector.
One of the few glimmers of support appeared in $2.59 million for Biosecurity border personnel and industry engagement for traceability planning, supply chain engagement, and emergency animal disease risk preparedness activities, and the investment of an additional $1.5m in educational infrastructure at Burnie’s TasTafe campus.
Critically, the TFGA’s budget submission was focused on initiatives aimed at improving the ongoing future of agriculture through a combination of education, biosecurity and traceability, wildlife management and demonstrating the sustainability of our industry.
“We didn’t come into this with our hands out, but we were hoping to see more investment in the future of agriculture as one of the key economic drivers of Tasmania.
“We understand this disappointment is shared by many sectors given the focus on education and health, but we need to ensure we have industries that can keep contributing to the economy to ensure critical services for Tasmania can be supported in the future.”
Biosecurity border personnel and industry engagement
Tasmanian farmers will be pleased to see an additional $2.59 million in funding for the protection of the state’s agricultural industry.
“We feel the state government gets it and understands the need to dedicate budgetary funds to biosecurity, particularly concerning the importance of traceability and emergency animal disease preparedness.
“As we have seen with the varroa mite outbreak it’s paramount the industry is alert and ready for any incursion.
“In particular we welcome the $500k allocated to support Apiary biosecurity with the future employment of another apiary officer to protect the state against any introduced diseases that may impact critical pollination services.
“We would however have liked to see greater investment in traceability initiatives such as the proposed implementation of electronic tags for sheep and goats. This is going to be a significant change, requiring significant investment from all sectors of industry, including Government".
There was some positive news with the investment in continued upgrades to the Freer Farm Agriculture Centre of Excellence at the Burnie TasTafe campus.
Mr Sauer said “Whilst it is pleasing to see the investment of $1.5m into agricultural education at Burnie’s TasTafe campus, the government has missed an opportunity to invest more broadly in the future of Agriculture through education and training, ensuring that agriculture has a strong workforce in the future to deliver economic outcomes for Tasmania.
“We would have liked to have seen the government explore the industry's needs when it comes to training and education. We need a program developed with engagement from farmers, agriculture services providers and the education sector".
The TFGA supports the government’s $1.4 million continued investment in tackling the state's serious weed problem.
“It’s pleasing to see the government recognise the impact of invasive weeds, particularly on agricultural land.
“The continuation of the fund can only improve productivity and ensure our most valuable and productive land is maintained”.
“However, what is missing is an investment to demonstrate the broader sustainability of Tasmanian agriculture through both carbon and natural capital accounting, ensuring we can access premium markets and maintain a competitive advantage from advantages such as our renewable energy resources.
The allocation of an additional $255,000 for the Landcare Action Program also contributes to maintaining sustainable agriculture and enhances the support for the commendable work carried out by Landcare.
“Landcare continues to provide a valuable service for our farmers, assisting with the adoption of sustainable practices and positive environmental outcomes. It’s good to see the government recognising the invaluable role Landcare plays and their shared commitment to supporting their ongoing work.
Innovation in Agriculture
The TFGA is also focused on the importance of continued investment in innovation in agriculture is also critical for the future of the industry.
"We are pleased to see the continuation of previous commitments for Strategic Industry Partnership projects, and the additional $2m for the Ag Innovation Hub. However. We would hope to see this investment in innovation in agriculture in future years to drive improved productivity and efficiencies in the agriculture sector."
We are also pleased to see that commitment to irrigation development has been maintained, with an investment of an additional $9.3m, taking the state's commitment to $118 million for existing projects as well as funding for continued investment for investigations by Tasmanian Irrigation. Whilst this is welcome, this investment needs to continue in future years to help drive economic growth in the agricultural sector.
The TFGA recognises the state government's efforts to invest in crucial areas such as health, education, and housing, but we firmly believe that the agricultural sector deserved more focused investment for its future. The budget's allocations fell short of the comprehensive support needed to ensure the long-term viability and growth of Tasmania's farming industry.
TFGA’s key focuses from our 2023 budget submission are below:
The full TFGA budget submission can be found here
- Continuation of the sheep and goat EID implementation study through the Tasmanian Red Meat Industry Development Project
- Funding for educational workshops for sheep producers to support the implementation and utilisation of EID on farms
- Investigation of an equitable cost-sharing arrangement and support from both the State and Federal governments for the implementation and maintenance of any proposed system
3.3 Greater resources for wildlife management on farm
- Tasmanian State Government, in consultation with the TFGA, to introduce a system for game fencing subsidies
- Introduce a 1:1 cost sharing agreement for the development and maintenance of game fencing for all boundaries between private agricultural or forestry land and Crown land where there is a wildlife problem
- Upon finalisation of the ‘Felixer’ cat poisoning trials currently underway on King Island, that the State Government purchase multiple traps to be available to lease to farmers for a small cost-recovery fee
3.1 Tasmanian Sustainable Agriculture Recognition Systems
- Provision of funding with initial scoping indicates that a project of this magnitude will require a commitment of at least $960,000 and delivery over a three year time frame to ensure optimal outcomes
1.1 Industry lead review of agricultural training
- That TFGA would receive funding from the State Government of $25,000 to travel expenses for a cross section of TFGA representatives and other industry organisation representatives from Tasmania
- That TFGA would receive funding from State Government of $10,000 to recover wage costs for TFGA to develop a summary report of meetings held, key findings, outcomes and industry recommendations to the Tasmanian Government to inform Skills Tasmania and TasTAFE
2.1 Assessing the economic value of Tasmania’s irrigated agriculture
- That the State Government provide the TFGA with $75,000 funding grant to engage an independent consultant to conduct a detailed economic assessment of the current and forecast value that irrigated agriculture provides to Tasmanian communities
- That the Tasmanian Government continues to advocate for and invest in the development of irrigation infrastructure in Tasmania, consistent with the existing funding model
4.3 Expanding infrastructure to support better biosecurity
- To ensure public safety, biosecurity and animal welfare, appropriate funding provided to develop additional truck wash and effluent dump facilities in the North-West, North East and Southern regions of Tasmania