Budget 2016-17: Agriculture

The 2016-17 Budget includes a number of measures for agriculture, relating to water and drought, infrastructure, innovation and trade as well as revenue and savings measures.

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The 2016-17 Budget includes a number of measures for agriculture, relating to water and drought, infrastructure, innovation and trade as well as revenue and savings measures.

Water and drought

  • $2 billion in concessional loans (10 year period from 1 July 2016) to establish the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility. Loan recipients will make interest only payments for up to the first five years, and have a further 10 years to repay the principal and any additional interest.
  • $9.5 million for the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, to fund water infrastructure feasibility studies in northern Australia, with the cost being met by redirecting funds from the Rural Research and Development for Profit program.
  • $7.1 million to fund additional Rural Financial Counsellors who will provide free financial advice to farmers in drought-affected areas.

Transport infrastructure

  • Up to $593.7 million in additional equity to the Australian Rail Track Corporation over three years from 2016-17 for land acquisition and pre-construction works on the inland rail project. This does not commit the Commonwealth to construction, which is likely to cost several billion dollars.
  • $220 million for the Murray Basin rail project, upgrading grain lines in western Victoria, matching the Victorian Government contribution.

Innovation and trade

  • $50 million over four years to the Australian Grape and Wine Authority to promote wine tourism and Australian wine overseas.
  • $15 million over four years for a carp control programme.
  • A two year pilot program to improve access for farmers to training and information about co-operatives collective bargaining and innovative business models, with the costs being met from existing departmental resources

Revenue and savings measures

  • A reduction in the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate cap from $500,000 to $350,000 on 1 July 2017, and to $290,000 on 1 July 2018 and tighter eligibility criteria from 1 July 2019.
  • Savings of $9.2 million to the Managing Farm Risk Programme, with a means test limiting eligibility to farm businesses with annual revenue of less than $2.0 million.
  • An extra $2 million annually from changes to agricultural levies from 1 July 2016, including:

– a mandatory levy of $0.50 per tonne on all hay and straw prepared for export, replacing a voluntary levy;

– cessation of various deer levies and custom charges from 1 July 2016;

– an increase in the Emergency Plant Test Response Levy for growth of private plantation logs; and

– an increase in the citrus levy by $1.50 per tonne

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