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Budget boosts agricultural sector jobs and sustainability

The 2017-18 Queenland Budget encourages economic development in rural and regional Queensland by supporting recovery from natural disasters, providing more frontline staff across the state, continuing biosecurity responses, and enhancing trade with key export markets.

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Regional Economic Development, Bill Byrne, said the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ $424.7 million budget would support Queensland’s agricultural enterprises that had felt the force of extreme weather events.

“We have allocated funding to support continued recovery– as well as supporting the resilience of agriculture and the communities that depend on the sector,” Minister Byrne said. “Existing drought relief arrangements to drought affected communities will continue.

Drought support

“While rainfall received so far has seen a reduction in drought-declared areas to a little more than 66 per cent, much of Queensland is still in the grip of this drought and provision has been made for up to $20 million in expenditure for the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme.

“An additional $16.03 million investment in the Queensland Climate Risk and Drought Resilience program over five years builds on $3.5 million in 2016-17 and will improve farm business capability, seasonal forecasting, and provide tools that enable producers to better manage climate risk.

Focus on jobs

“I am also proud to announce $5.2 million over three years for the Rural Economic Development package to deliver rural economic growth and more jobs. As part of the package, a $1.3 million Growing Queensland’s Food Exports program will support fruit and vegetable growers’ access to markets in Japan, China and South Korea following the signing of free trade agreements.”

Sustainable fisheries

Minister Byrne said additional funding of $20.9 million over three years would support the Sustainable Fishing Strategy – the biggest such reform in Queensland’s history.

“The strategy will help shape Queensland’s fisheries over the next 10 years and will ensure our fisheries are managed in a sustainable and responsible way,” he said.

“The funding will deliver a boost to compliance with the recruitment of 20 more frontline officers, more than a 20 per cent increase on current frontline officers. We are committed to enhancing our frontline services, and will be recruiting and training new QBFP officers within months.

“The fisheries funding will also allow for more monitoring, better engagement and communication, and more responsive decision-making. These reforms will ensure healthy fish stocks that will support thousands of Queensland jobs.

“Aquaculture development areas will also be identified where development can be planned for, and impacts on the environment minimised and approval processes streamlined.”

Protecting the Great Barrier Reef

Minister Byrne said DAF would continue to support a range of activities to protect the Great Barrier Reef and deliver the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan.

“We will be working on a range of fisheries reforms and working with agricultural industries to achieve best practice management,” he said.

Biosecurity and fighting pests — a top priority

“Up to $9 million over two years was available to continue the white spot response in SEQ.

“Throughout 2016-17, the Queensland Government committed more than $17 million on the white spot response which shows our resolve to protect the seafood industry against biosecurity threats.”

Minister Byrne said a priority was response and eradication programs across the State.

“The government also continues the fight against the Panama disease tropical race 4 and has allocated $2.77 million to continue control and containment measures for the disease,” he said.

“DAF has worked closely with industry and invested $5.8 million in 2016-17 to prevent further spread of the disease.

“An additional $1.25 million has been allocated to drought affected landholders to better control weeds and pest animals in 2017-18. This funding will be used towards vital initiatives that facilitate cluster fencing for wild dogs and to improve the management of the Navua Sedge weed.”

The Queensland Government has ensured other nationally significant biosecurity responses and eradication programs continue to receive funding and these include:

  • red imported fire ants
  • electric ants
  • cucumber green mottle mosaic virus
  • red witchweed
  • varroa mite
  • four tropical weeds, and
  • exotic fruit fly in the Torres Strait.

Funds for R&D

Minister Byrne said capital purchases of $18.1 million were planned for 2017-18, with a focus on developing and upgrading existing research facilities across the state.

“Of this funding, $4.5 million will be used to upgrade the department’s research and operational facilities,” he said.

“We have also ensured there is funding for vessels and marine equipment to be upgraded for fisheries research and regulatory function.”

Beef Week and other promotions

Minister Byrne said the Queensland Government had confirmed $500,000 in funding and matching $500,000 in-kind activities for Beef Week 2018.

“Beef Week in Rockhampton showcases Queensland’s beef industry as a world-leader to our market partners, and the cutting-edge science and innovation that underpins its success,” he said.

In addition to the Beef Week 2018 commitment, Minister Byrne said the budget confirmed a number of other initiatives that would showcase Queensland’s agricultural products, including:

  • Supporting government-sponsored outbound trade missions in conjunction with industry
  • An agricultural investment summit with industry, the financial services sector and the advisory services sector
  • Leveraging promotional activities and international events associated with the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

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