Primary Producers SA has welcomed the 2018 Federal Budget as a positive for rural South Australia, with measures to reduce the cost of doing business for farmers, protect agricultural biosecurity and boost market access efficiency some of the key wins.

PPSA Chair Rob Kerin says, given the South Australian export growth in the past decade has been reliant on food and wine, the costs of doing business, particularly transport, is vital to farmers.

“The Federal Government’s commitment to infrastructure, and particularly roads, is welcomed with significant investment flagged over the next decade,” he said.

“The costs of getting our produce from farm gate to market or shipping for exports is a major issue for all producers. PPSA has seen this as a high priority and has had many wins but an injection of funds to infrastructure is essential to achieve the access and efficiencies we are seeking.

“Biosecurity is also a major issue for all producers. Extra funding of $100 million for biosecurity is needed and appreciated. Biosecurity will always be a risk for agriculture, and we welcome any assistance in keeping diseases out of our island nation, and ensuring our export markets are secure.”

Mr Kerin welcomed extra funding for an additional six Agricultural Trade Commissioners, taking the total number to 22 based in key global markets.

“The government’s allocation indicates an agenda to tackle non-tariff barriers, which is very important and will help many more agricultural enterprises to share in the benefits of the progress made with trade agreements,” Mr Kerin said.

“Workforce issues are a major impediment to agricultural investors creating new ventures and current investors having certainty. The Federal Budget includes significant money to collect the data needed to better understand the issue, which is a step closer to a solution. That solution may be a specific visa for agriculture.

“The budget also funds the Regional Employment Trials Program. This will see 10 selected regions get help to respond to their particular employment challenges. Hopefully this will see local solutions developed by listening to local people. PPSA welcomes this $18.4 million in funding and will lobby for SA to be included.

“On a less positive note, there does not seem to be extra to tackle the digital divide and mobile blackspot issues. The lack of services is a business, social, educational and safety issue. We welcome the progress made with the NBN, but mobile continues to be a major problem – leaving those without coverage at a severe disadvantage.”

More information: Rob Kerin, 0439 933 103