THE long-awaited Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper was released on Saturday – more than six months after it was initially scheduled – but has it lived up to expectations?
So far, the response from those in the agricultural industry has been mixed.
Perhaps this could be due to the document's promotion – with mainstream media seemingly more interested in highlighting Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce's non-appearance on a television show, after a directive from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, than in the White Paper itself.
The $4 billion package outlines five priority areas: a fairer go for farm businesses, building infrastructure for the 21st century, strengthening Australia's approach to drought and risk management, farming smarter and accessing premium markets.
Highlights included funding for water and farm infrastructure and doubling farm management deposits to $800,000 to ensure those who want to enter the industry have a better chance to do so.
Drought concessional loans have also been lowered, with $250 million available a year for the next 11 years.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority application process has also been improved. Receiving more than 700 industry submissions and being close to two years in the making, the document will certainly be a boost to industry.
Any investment in agriculture is welcome in a day and age when cutbacks to government research and development in the industry are becoming increasingly common.
Giving producers the tools to improve, and promote, themselves and their industry will benefit all.