The Australian Government has released a discussion paper on Modernising Australia’s Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) as part of the growth agenda for agriculture. Livestock SA is interested in two RDCs – Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), indirectly also Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) and Australian Livestock Export Corporation (LiveCorp). The submission discusses the RDC structures, inclusion of AWI with red meat industry bodies, engaging with levy-payers, cross commodity issues, collaboration and attracting new participants, uptake of agricultural R&D, marketing, social licence and advocacy.
Security of water supplies for livestock at reasonable prices is a major concern to Livestock SA. The increasing cost of water has become an effective restraint on investment in livestock production systems in South Australia. The State Government’s Water Pricing Inquiry has found that there needs to be a reassessment of SA Water’s regulated asset base, with Livestock SA requesting consideration be given to how SA Water can best assist livestock producers. Livestock SA would like to see a reduction in the cost of water for livestock with a differentiation in water prices for water used from SA Water for livestock consumption. A program needs to be established that could deliver grants and research surrounding water efficiencies, links between farmers and relevant business information, desalination and storage technology and a possible rebate on water used by livestock.
Livestock SA is pleased to note that the new Planning and Design Code has been drafted with the intent to support primary industries. It will be necessary to ensure the changes are compatible with two new pieces of legislation being developed by the State Government – the new Biosecurity and Pastoral Acts. Livestock SA’s submission discusses the minimum land size for farming, conflicts between primary production industries and flexibility surrounding changes in farming practice.
Livestock SA welcomes the expansion of the use of property identifiers to include crops as well as livestock. This will assist in enhancing Australia’s traceability arrangements across all sectors of agriculture, and help with managing pest and disease outbreaks, emergencies, food safety, trade and market access requirements. These reforms will also allow industry to address increasing consumer interest in product sustainability, ethics and providence.
At Livestock SA’s recent Annual General Meeting, concerns were expressed about the possibility of further using flows from the South East to assist towards trying to maintain the long-term ecological health and resilience of the Coorong. There are fears from landowners and others in the South East that there may be further widening of drains to achieve this, with depletion of water for livestock and other uses. It is important that if this option is developed the South East community is consulted and kept fully informed throughout the process.
As South Australia’s pastoral region and many parts of the rest of the State are in drought, Livestock SA welcomes the proposed changes to the Farm Household Allowance. Livestock SA’s submission discusses the increase of the offset amount, as the ability to offset off-farm income against debt servicing is extremely useful and raising it brings the offset more in line with real debt situations. It also discusses extending the scope of the FHA program, which means that the availability of support is more likely to be able to be linked to actual seasonal conditions at any time rather than being a once off event. As farmers come out of a drought, the biggest problem they will face is the availability of capital. By adding in lump sum payments, the impact of the drought situation on farming families can be reduced.
The state government has set an objective to lift the sustainable economic growth rate in South Australia to an average of three percent per year. The food, wine and agribusiness sector is one of nine priority sectors that have been identified for growth. Livestock SA is pleased to be participating in further developing these sectors in line with this growth agenda. As a major initiative, Livestock SA has worked with the entire value chain to develop both a South Australian Sheep Industry Blueprint and a South Australian Cattle Industry Blueprint. To further assist in expanding the State’s sheep industry, the SA dog fence is being rebuilt. There are several other aspects Livestock SA believe the State Government needs to consider to increase growth of the sector. These include allowing the farming of rangeland feral goats on pastoral leases, the expansion of the kangaroo meat industry and commercialising of kangaroo products, improvements in the State’s planning processes, security of water supplies for livestock, agricultural safety from mining interests, good transport networks, better online accessibility and increases in R&D.
Livestock SA welcomes the Federal Parliament’s Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources inquiry into how to expand Australia’s agriculture, with reference to the importance of the South Australian Sheep and Beef Industry Blueprints that Livestock SA has developed. Livestock SA’s submission discusses the State Government funding towards the development of a red meat and wool industry growth program, a grant towards the development of the South Australian Beef Cattle Industry Blueprint and the rebuild of the SA Dog Fence. It also references the areas of interest Livestock SA will discuss in the South Australian inquiry including farming of rangeland feral goats, expansion of the kangaroo meat industry, security of water supplies for livestock, and land management strategies.
The draft report from the Productivity Commission on Remote Area Tax Concessions and Payments, which proposes to abolish the zone tax offset, was an area of importance for Livestock SA this month. The zone tax offset is designed to compensate residents for uncongenial climate conditions, isolation and the higher cost of living. Livestock SA’s submission to the commissioner discusses adjusting the boundaries and increasing the payment rates, rather than abolishing the zone tax offset altogether, with hopes of retaining workers and their services in remote areas. The Productivity Commission’s recommendation of tightening of fringe benefits tax remote area concessions is also discussed.
Livestock SA acknowledges the steps being taken by government regarding the issue of farm trespass and the proposed amendments to the Summary Offences Act. Livestock SA’s submission mentions the impact of the Aussie Farms animal activist website, which advocated for trespass onto farming land, and the concern Livestock SA has for the rights of landholders regarding their protection under the current trespass laws in South Australia. Livestock SA also referred to the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association (SADA) and its notion of banning notices issued by farmers against trespassers, restricting them for a period up to two years in duration.