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Bush remedy: Farmers roll out $11bn wish-list to revive agriculture

Statewide

Farmers want more than $11 billion invested in rural Australia and have compiled a list of five priority areas they say need to be addressed for agriculture to thrive.

 

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The demands have been outlined by the National Farmers Federation at the start of their two-day national conference in Canberra.

Launching the NFF’s election wish list on Tuesday, president Fiona Simson told the audience the importance of the coming federal election for agriculture and the bush could not be understated.

Simson called on all parties to back five priority areas the NFF had outlined for agriculture and regional Australia to thrive.

“Agriculture is on a trajectory of growth. Farmers and our regions continue to power the nation.This was especially evident during the very tough days of the pandemic,” she said.

On top of the NFF list is a plan to pour more than $4 billion into 20 regional development precincts across Australia.

“Successive governments have failed to capture the benefits of regionalisation,” Ms Simson told an audience of hundreds of stakeholders.

She said farmers also wanted $5 billion for a rural telecommunications fund to improve connectivity for remote Australians.

“The data drought must end,” she said.

Simson also called for a whole of government approach in setting a target of 10 countries to sign up to the Australian agriculture visa.

In a pre-recorded speech, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the conference that the government had pumped $100 billion into regional Australia since 2013 and was committed to doing more.

He said $21 billion was set aside for rural and regional areas in last week’s federal budget.

Natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic had pushed the country to its very limits.

“Yet through it all, we have reaffirmed one simple truth – Australia’s strength, our resilience,” Mr Morrison said.

The value of farm production is heading towards $81 billion this year, which meant rural industry was foundational to the government’s economic plan.

“(My government) knows that Australia is way more than our eight capital cities … the wealth of our nation resides in the regions,” Morrison said.

“We look forward to a great period of prosperity in our regions.”

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