AUSVEG, the peak industry body for the Australian vegetable industry, has welcomed the Government’s support of the vegetable growing industry and the horticulture businesses that supply high-quality vegetables and fruits to local and international consumers.
The 2020/2021 Federal Budget includes a range of measures that benefit vegetable growers, including incentives to attract local, displaced workers to work on farm, assistance for exporting growers to continue to supply high-quality produce to key global markets, tax incentives to support business investment and growth, and funding for biosecurity and drought resilience and preparedness.
The Federal Government has committed $17.4 million over two years for relocation assistance for workers who are prepared to work in regional areas for at least six weeks. Eligible workers will be able to receive one-off relocation rebates of up to $6,000.
The Budget also provides $317.1 million to extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism into 2021, with the initiative supporting Australian growers to export their high-quality produce into key export markets to stay connected with their overseas customers and continue to contribute to the global supply chain.
AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said that the Government had heeded the concerns of industry and addressed the key areas that were impacting the industry’s confidence in the months and years ahead due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
“The issues of ensuring growers have access to an adequate and reliable source of labour and continuing to service critical export markets are vital areas that needed to be addressed in the budget. We are pleased to see the Morrison Government has responded,” said Mr. Whiteside.
“Growers will always have a preference to use local workers, so the incentives listed in the Budget, including the $6,000 relocation rebate for workers willing to move to regional Australia to take up farm work, will hopefully make an impact on the worker shortages that the industry is facing by encouraging more people to move to more regional areas.”
“It may not be the silver bullet the industry needs, but we are encouraged that the Government is working with industry to find workable and reasonable solutions to this critical problem. We will continue to monitor the success of this initiative and work with the Government on further interventions that attract the required local and international workers our industry needs to get crops off the farm and to consumers.”
“AUSVEG encourages growers to lodge their labour requirements using the National Harvest Labour Information Service (NHLIS) and for locals looking for farm work to also use the service.”
“The extension of the International Freight Assistance Mechanism into 2021 and additional support to improve the export environment for exporters is also welcome news, as it is vital to ensure the industry can remain a major contributor to the global supply chain as the world emerges from COVID-19 in the years ahead.”
“Additional business support through temporary tax incentives to allow businesses to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets of any value in the year they are installed and incentives to hire young local workers are also sensible measures that will work to increase confidence in the industry and encourage investment in regional businesses and people.”
“The agriculture industry is working towards a target of $100 billion in value in 2030, which will help ensure that the industry can be a powerhouse in lifting Australia out of the current economic hardship in the years ahead. We will continue to work with the government to try and improve the trading environment for vegetable growers to help contribute to the growth of the sector,” said Mr. Whiteside.
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