Asset write-offs, concessional loans and some money for regional development look promising for the dairy industry, but there is a sting in visa fees for employers, in last night's federal budget.
Interim Australian Dairy Farmers CEO, John McQueen said the Coalition Government has had to find a difficult balance between the need to find savings and the desire to grow the agricultural industry, dairy included.
“While we were prepared for a no-frills budget offering limited spending initiatives, we are pleased the government has delivered on some priorities”, said Mr McQueen.
Relevant budget information for dairy:
· Instant asset write off extended for 12 months – Businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million will be eligible for accelerated depreciation arrangements for assets valued at less than $20,000 until 30 June 2018.
· Regional Growth Fund - $272 million over four years for major regional projects to support structural adjustment and $200 million for the Building Better Regions Fund.
· Extended eligibility for Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme – farmers and their partners who have received their full entitlement for Farm Household Allowance will eligible for loans up to 50 per cent of their debt position for refinancing purposes.
· Gas supply affordability – $86.3 million over four years to improve gas regulation and supply.
Concerns for dairy:
· Visa Fee Changes – Businesses with turnover of less than $10 million will be required to make upfront payments of $1,200 for temporary skill shortage visas (to replace the 457 visa), and $3,000 for employees on permanent work visas. The money will be used towards the Skilling Australians Fund.
ADF is concerned the increase in fees for foreign workers will be detrimental to the dairy industry.
“We believe the fee increase will place an even greater burden on farmers who have had to rely on skilled migration to bolster their workforce due to critical labour shortages in many dairy regions”, Mr McQueen said.
ADF also acknowledges funding for two election commitments with the development of the commodity milk price index and Regional Investment Corporation to streamline the delivery of concessional loans.