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THE WEEKLY TIMES | Federal budget: Grain growers call for price inquiry, roads funding

Grain industry leaders are pushing for more funding towards competition in the grains industry and roads in the wake of the Federal budget announced on Tuesday.

Grain Producers Australia chief executive Colin Bettles said grain prices paid to Australian growers did not match prices paid in the international market, and an inquiry was needed to understand why.

“We’re being told that Australia’s grain is the best in the world, but we’re getting suboptimal prices,” he said.

Grain growers could be losing as much as $50 to $60 per tonne of grain as prices in international markets surged, he said.

As yet, the government has not made a commitment towards an inquiry, and funding was not announced for an inquiry in Tuesday’s budget. Mr Bettles said he would be pushing for a commitment before the election.

“We’re hoping that (the government) see the value in (an inquiry) and being proactive,” Mr Bettles said. “This was the No. 1 issue at our harvest review meeting.”

Mr Bettles said he was happy with the $1.3 billion the government had announced in funding for improved regional telecommunications, but he was waiting to see more detail.

“What we’re asking for is fast and reliable internet coverage. I think that message has come through loud and clear,” he said. “There are some welcome announcements and initiatives in the budget… but we still need to see the detail of it.”

The government has announced funding for on-farm biosecurity, through a three-year $20.1 million grant program.

This commitment comes on top of over $500 million invested in biosecurity since the 2021-22 budget and expected expenditure of over $1.1 billion on biosecurity and export programs in 2021-22.

“We can never do enough. But certainly they’re making the right noise about better protections for biosecurity,” Mr Bettles said. “The increase in containerised trade is something that concerns us a great deal. And so we want to strengthen (biosecurity) as much as we can, we just don’t want these pests getting into the country to start with.”


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