Infrastructure, R&D funds welcomed in Budget
GRAIN Producers SA is welcoming the Australian Government’s new Infrastructure Fund, announced as part of yesterday’s Federal Budget, for its capacity to fund investment in new ports and road and rail freight networks for South Australian grain growers.
Grain Producers SA chief executive Darren Arney says a recent independent report by the Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre found supply chain costs – the cost of getting grain from the farm to a port and on-board a vessel for export – averages about $70 a tonne for wheat, or about 30 percent of wheat’s cost of production.
“This is just too high and has to be reduced to help the profitability of grain producers. If we can improve the efficiency of the supply chain network with additional port facilities and improved road and rail networks that would be a large bonus for the grain industry.”
Mr Arney said while funding to well-known programs Caring for our Country and Landcare had been reduced, farming systems groups could still benefit by accessing money through the new national research and development fund.
“The new R&D fund includes $100 million over four years and according to the government, its focus will be on supporting practical research for farmers,” he said.
“The farming systems groups are ideally placed to implement those on-farm projects. The groups have previously accessed Landcare and Caring for our Country funds and were making significant gains in crop production through those programs, as well as environmental benefits such as stubble retention and soil moisture conservation.
“Funds should be prioritised to grassroots projects to deliver the increases in productivity and profitability that are needed to sustain and grow grain producers’ businesses into the future. We do not want to see the new national R&D funds from the Federal Government used to prop up administration costs within state R&D agencies or used as an excuse to reduce state investment.”
Mr Arney says transport is a significant cost and for regional and rural Australia and the government needs to ensure the efficiency gains from supply chain infrastructure are not whittled away through other financial imposts – such as increases in the fuel excise.
“With regard to the diesel fuel rebate, Primary Producers SA is awaiting further clarification on whether the rebate to farmers will be adjusted to compensate for increases in the fuel excise.
“The grain industry is a significant user of diesel for the production of food – each farmer produces enough food to feed about 600 people, including 150 here in Australia and 450 overseas. So GPSA believes diesel for use in grain growing businesses should not attract any increases through the fuel levy charge.”