NSW Farmers President James Jackson says Tuesday’s state budget presents a golden opportunity to invest in productivity-boosting measures to grow the agricultural sector and build a productive base to pay down debt.
The state’s agricultural sector is powering ahead as an economic driver for the state, with recent reports revealing hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars could be added to the coffers if the right policy settings are in place.
“There has never been a better time to unleash the beast of agriculture,” Mr Jackson said.
“At the moment our sector is a key economic driver in terms of exports, underpinning jobs not just on the land but right the way through the food and fibre supply chain from farm gate to the checkout.
“NSW Farmers has identified some key improvements across a number of policy areas, and we’re pleased to see them getting traction in the pre-budget announcements.”
Shoring up biosecurity efforts in the face of outbreaks in Indonesia and bolstering rural and regional health were among the key policy priorities for NSW Farmers, with a focus on creating a stronger future for agriculture a major driving force. Pre-budget announcements such as $206 million to help farmers adopt additional sustainable practices, and $28 million to boost farm forestry were also welcome measures.
“The government should be commended for the investments they’ve already pledged that will unlock future growth in the agriculture sector, but we know there is still more to do,” Mr Jackson said.
“Our farmers produce some of the world’s best food and fibre and we are proud to see it enjoyed by people both here and abroad.
“What is critically important now is to maintain that momentum and realise some of the opportunities ahead of us.”
In terms of exports for NSW, $1 out of every $7 comes from agriculture, and a recent report from the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre (FIAL) showed investing in value-adding could contribute an additional $50 billion to the economy by 2030, creating over 223,000 jobs in NSW.
“Agriculture has enormous opportunity to help dig ourselves out of the COVID-sized economic hole Australia is in, and there are great opportunities to unlock the potential of natural capital,” Mr Jackson said.
“There are some big challenges ahead that agriculture will have to navigate such as climate targets and a growing global population, but we are adapting to meet those challenges and we are working with governments to get the policies right.
“By investing in agriculture, the state government will allow farmers to truly grow a stronger future for NSW.”