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Agriculture must be sustainable in ALL ways – always

By AgForce Ag Business Committee chairman Mark Collins.

We primary producers have always been proud of our vital contribution to Australia’s economy and culture. This role will be especially apparent as Australia manages and then emerges from the COVID recession.

Farmers actually enjoy – despite the hard yakka, the hurdles thrown at us by government, and our reliance on weather – growing renewable natural products to meet Australia’s needs. And supplying the surplus for export to support the nation’s economy.

But to enable this to continue, our businesses must be sustainable and that doesn’t just mean environmentally.

Most of us are small family businesses and, like all businesses, we must be financially viable and resilient to remain in operation.

But several factors are working against us, preventing us from being able to invest in and build our enterprises to enable them to contribute the most we can to the economy and community.

The first is excessive government charges – such as stamp duty on agricultural insurance products and family trust-to-trust property transfers.

These exorbitant charges cannot be justified and reduce our ability to invest in critical areas like risk management and succession management.

A family trust purchasing the average Queensland property would immediately have to add $250,000 to the sale price. This is a significant hindrance to ag businesses developing the next generation and becoming more resilient.

Also, half of Queensland remains on term leases, which landholders cannot upgrade or ever own, beholden to the state government as landlord.

Why would producers spend hard-earned money to develop land that they are not sure is theirs?

Clearly, something needs to be done at the state level to rectify this situation and we will be seeking significant amendment to the Land Act 1994 which governs these leases, as well as a number of other issues.

We will be talking with the government, the LNP opposition, and the minor parties as a priority in the lead-up to the state election. Our argument – investing in farm businesses is really an investment in the strength of our state and our regional communities.

A failure by any government to do this would a massive missed opportunity.

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