Farmers flag capex proposal

The VFF has proposed the creation of an innovative capital expenditure fund for farmers as part of its wish list ahead of next month’s Victorian State Budget.

VFF President Emma Germano said the proposal was amongst a raft of asks tabled to Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas and would help boost the industry’s current $19.6b dollar food and fibre economic export contribution.   

“Victoria remains the powerhouse of Australian agriculture, indirectly employing more than 150,000 people, pouring billions into the economy and retaining the mantle of Australia’s largest exporter of food and fibre products.”

“There’s no doubt that despite our economic heavy lifting and genuine rank as one of the state’s biggest employers, the agriculture industry has been short-changed on critical investment from the government for years.”

“We can do more with forward thinking investment and backing ideas such as the creation of an innovative capital expenditure fund for farmers. It aims at enabling improvements in agriculture sector productivity, safety, resilience and climate change adaptation,” Ms Germano said.

 The fund would provide grants and low interest loans to eligible farmers to undertake on farm capital investments and improve supply chains. Grants and loans offered under the fund could be invested in:

  • Capital projects to improve farm productivity, including new production equipment, upgrades and supply chain logistics;
  • Improvements in farm safety (for example, removing hazards, OHS training);
  • Projects which reduce greenhouse emissions and promote better environmental outcomes.

Administration of the fund would be undertaken by Agriculture Victoria in close consultation with the VFF and industry representatives and other government departments to ensure allocation.

Ms Germano added the idea formed part of a range of ideas submitted to the Victorian Government to rebalance the ledger to ensure fairness and appropriate support for rural and regional Victorians.

“As a minimum, we’ve asked for particular funding to fix our rural roads mess, strengthen our biosecurity safety net and build government departmental capability to ensure the brakes aren’t applied on the growth of our industry.”

“The Victorian agriculture industry outranks international education and manufacturing when it comes to export earnings. There’s no better way to rebuild our economy and jumpstart productivity than investing in Victorian agriculture.”

“We’re well aware of the government’s debt woes, however smartly investing in the growth of Victoria’s agriculture industry remains one of the best ways to get us back in the black,” Ms Germano said.