The Victorian Budget 2018/19 has been released, with significant investments into rural roads, water security, agricultural TAFE courses, and first-farm ownership, announced.
Rural road cash splash
Highway upgrades are some of the biggest ticket items in a $941 million Victorian Government regional and road spending splurge, announced in this year’s State Budget.
State Treasurer Tim Pallas said the issue was not that regional Victoria didn’t have enough roads, but rather they were not in good enough condition.
“It is the biggest regional and rural road blitz Victoria has ever seen,” Mr Pallas said.
Read more here.
Water security gets big boost
A $65 million boost to water security has been announced as a part of the Victorian Budget 2018/19.
The East Grampians Water Supply Project will receive the biggest portion of the funding, with $32 million to be invested in the project.
The project will build 1600 kilometres of stock and domestic pipelines, for up to 530,000 hectares of unserviced land in the Grampians region.
Read more here.
Free TAFE for agriculture courses
The Government will make training at TAFE free for 30 priority courses, including five agricultural courses.
Commencing January 1, 2019, eligible students will pay no course tuition fees for the duration of the selected courses.
Selected courses include Certificate II, III, and IV in Agriculture, Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production), Certificate II and III in Horticulture, and Certificate II in Meat Processing (Food Services).
Nominated apprenticeship pathway courses in Government priority areas will also be free, to encourage higher participation.
Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said it was positive to see in the list of 30 priority courses, that agriculture was well-represented.
Expanding young farmer stamp duty exemption threshold
Stamp duty exemptions for farmers buying their first farm are being lifted, bringing them into line with recent changes that benefit first home buyers.
The threshold will be lifted from $300,000 to $600,000 for settlements from July 1, 2018, with stamp duty discounts also applied on first farms valued between $600,000 and $750,000.
The savings will reduce start-up costs and encourage more young people into farming.
“We’re slashing stamp duty for young, first farm buyers, making it easier for young farmers to get their start on the land,” Ms Pulford said.
Boosting agricultural exports and improving market access
The Victorian Budget will invest in research, development and innovation across the sector, with $16.1 million allocated for the Growing Agriculture Exports, Farms and Tourism initiative.
The funding is designed to boost agricultural exports and improve market access to farmers by helping them meet the requirements of trading partners.
“These investments will boost exports, open up new markets and help take more of our high quality produce to the world,” Ms Pulford said.
Reducing digital divide
The Victorian Budget will deliver $26.8 million to reduce the digital divide, and better connect businesses, farmers and families.
There will be $13.5 million invested into supporting small businesses, including digital economy roadshows in regional Victoria.
There will be $11 million invested to build extra telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage in blackspot areas across regional Victoria.
$1.7 million will be invested to establish a regional Centre of Excellence in the Mallee, to drive research, innovation and development in key industry sectors.
Animal welfare reforms
The Government has already announced a $500,000 investment into promoting good animal welfare, but has added a $700,000 investment, to total $1.2 million.
It will begin delivery of the Animal Welfare Action Plan.
Funding will be provided to big and small groups, including Agriculture Victoria for compliance and enforcement activities.
Supporting wine industry
The Government is supporting the food and wine industry, with a dedicated fund in the Victorian Budget.
There will be $4.1 million investment into growing wine businesses, and a further $2 million for the emerging artisanal food industry.
The Budget also provides support for the Wine Growth Fund, and implementation of the Victorian Wine Industry Development Strategy.
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford will be in the Macedon Ranges on Friday, May 4, with small wine producers, releasing more details about the funding.