PROVIDING drought relief, eliminating pests and biosecurity measures will be the focus of funds allocated to the agricultural sector in the Queensland Government’s 2018-19 budget.
Treasurer Jackie Trad handed down her first budget on Tuesday, which had a strong focus on infrastructure, health and education.
The Agriculture and Fisheries budget is $481.7 million for the financial year, an increase of $57 million on the year prior.
Existing drought relief arrangements will remain in place with $34.6 million allocated in 2018-19, the same figure as last year, despite the revocation of drought declarations from eight local government areas following recent rain.
The money will fund the continuation of the Drought Assistance Package, including the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme to provide freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates to support producers and communities affected by drought.
The Queensland Drought and Climate Adaptation Program will continue, with $21 million to be spent over six years.
Pest control was also a focus, with $5 million allocated over two years for wild dog exclusion cluster fencing in western and southern Queensland.
Another $5.3 million over three years will be spent to protect the Far North’s banana industry from Panama disease, with feral pig control among the measures.
The Queensland Government has also allocated $43.3 million over 10 years to rid the state of Red Imported Fire Ants as part of a national strategy.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said there was $3.3 million ($10 million over three years) for the Rural Economic Development Grants Scheme, which promotes agricultural industry development and jobs in rural communities.
A further $1 million ($3 million over three years) will be spent on the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance and to extend the Queensland Agricultural Workforce Network.
Another $1 million over two years will be allocated to research, development and extension in pulse storage to support the expanding chickpea and pulses industry.
Another $400,000 has been allocated to tackle fruit flies in Bundaberg through a regional agriculture data collection trial with Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers.”
Mr Furner said $7.8 million would be allocated in 2018-19 to support the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017−2027 announced last year.
“We are also investing in additional monitoring, harvest strategies for all fisheries and vessel tracking on all crab, net and line boats by the end of 2018,” Mr Furner said.
He said this year’s budget would include providing the remainder of $100,000 pledged last year to the Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns Regional Councils to help promote their net-free zones.