NSW Nationals Leader Dugald Saunders has pushed Labor for continued investment in Agriculture and training for the regions, during an address at the NSW Farmers Conference.
Mr Saunders welcomed the Government’s announcement of support for the varroa mite response and for funding the next tranche of the transition to electronic identification (eID) for sheep and managed goats.
Labor unveiled a $28m package for saleyards and processors to invest in new infrastructure, a year after Mr Saunders secured agreement from all states for the implementation of a national mandatory eID program.
“12 months ago, we recognised there was a weakness in our biosecurity armour and that this will be a game changer in the face of a dangerous threat like Foot and Mouth Disease”, Mr Saunders said.
“We started having tough conversations with industry in NSW on an appropriate timeline and around what funding would be needed, because we wanted to make sure we got it right.
“I welcome the funding package, but more needs to be done to ensure the Commonwealth follows through on its commitment to upgrade the NLIS data base and ensure the new tags are affordable for farmers”.
Mr Saunders asked the Government to cast a wider net as he responded to the new three-year agreement for the ongoing management of varroa mite.
“Under the current agreement we set up last year, there’s support for beekeepers – both recreational and commercial – but what we’re hearing about now is the need for some more specific support for the horticultural sector which is being severely impacted”, Mr Saunders said.
“Some growers across the state are struggling because they can’t pollinate their crops and I’m hoping the new Agriculture Minister can find a meaningful solution for them.”
He also used his address to call for more preparation and planning for drought.
“As I travel around the state, to places like Rouchel between Scone and Muswellbrook, the insidious signs of drought are already starting to appear, and the locals there tell me they are already in drought,” Mr Saunders said.
“The Government needs to start thinking about what it will actually do to get people through – and part of that is keeping programs like the Farm Innovation Fund, so farmers can future proof their properties ahead of a catastrophic event.
“I am challenging the Labor Party to follow the NSW Liberal and Nationals commitment to add another $1 billion to this great initiative, that we know is making a real and tangible difference.”