VIABLE FUTURE: Shadow Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry minister Deb Frecklington says the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is a win for South Burnett producers.
VIABLE FUTURE: Shadow Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry minister Deb Frecklington says the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is a win for South Burnett producers. Contributed

Road and rail to open up markets for producers

THE release of the Federal Government's Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper will herald a strong future for South Burnett producers, Shadow Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Deb Frecklington said.

The paper puts forward the government's strategies to keep people on the land and ensure the agriculture industry prospers.

Mrs Frecklington said upgrades to road networks, including the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and the Warrego Hwy between Toowoomba and Miles and new rail lines would have a flow-on effect to producers everywhere.

"That means easier access to freight, which generally means reduced cost of freights, and greater access to port," she said.

While the installation of an inland rail corridor from Brisbane to Melbourne will not directly link to the South Burnett, Mrs Frecklington said if the government went ahead with a freight rail link to the Port of Brisbane it could give producers easier access to new markets.

"Rail to port is extremely important for an area such as the South Burnett and that in turn means a reduction of freight costs. Connectivity to market is extremely important and just flows on to the farm gate prices," she said.

The government will invest $30.8 million to remove technical trade barriers in key markets for agricultural exports and increase the number of agriculture counsellors overseas with the aim of providing more export returns to farmers and food processors.

Mrs Frecklington said the focus on international trade would flow down to better farm gate prices.

"A government only has a certain amount of levers they can pull. Increasing support for example in opening up other alternate markets is one of those ways," she said

The paper also listed financial assistance measures.

Some key financial measures

  • Up to $250m in Drought Concessional Loans each year for 11 years.
  • $22.8m to increase Farm Household Allowance case management for farmers.
  • Increased financial counselling service and improved access to community mental health.
  • Access for farmers to their Farm Management Deposits when needed, without losing tax concessions.
  • $35 m for local infrastructure projects to help communities suffering due to drought.
  • $25.8 m over four years to manage pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas.
  • Changes to tax system for farm businesses.
  • Advice and help from the Australian Taxation Office.