Farming groups representing the Wimmera have given the 2020-21 federal budget a mixed report card.
Victorian Farmers Federation President David Jochinke, of Murra Warra, said farmers were generally satisfied with key spending commitments to help enable young Australians to work in agriculture.
One such initiative is $17.4 million in grants to help job seekers with relocation assistance to take up a job for ongoing work or to temporarily relocate to harvest and regional areas to take up agricultural work.
"It's good news for farmers and the industry with the investment for Australians to pursue careers in agriculture," he said.
"This year highlights the desperate shortage of workers we have and the need to do something immediately, but this is a problem we've identified for three or four years now.
"Things need to be done to not only attract young Australians to look at agriculture as a viable opportunity but then also make sure they can make good money, have assistance to get them out to the regions and get skills they can utilize for seasons to come," he said.
He said while funding to boost regional telecommunications was welcome, this needs to be the start of further substantial funding for the regions.
GrainGrowers said the instant asset write-off uncapped for two years was a win for growers' back pockets and a long-standing request of theirs.
In a statement, it said it also approved of workforce-related announcements including the changes to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY by demonstrating three months of farm work.
The budget did not include the $20 million industry recovery fund which grains groups have been calling for in the wake of China effectively embargoing Australia barley earlier this year.
It does provide $328 million to boost farm exports and $317.1 million to extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism until the middle of next year. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said this was to restore global supply chains and keep international freight routes and flights operating during the COVID19 pandemic.
There will be $260 million spent on the second stage of the Warrnambool passenger rail line. Member for Mallee Webster said the Murray Basin Rail Project did not receive funding as it had "stalled at a state government level".
The $440 million project to modernize freight rail lines in north-west Victoria ran out of money last year, after only being half-finished. The Murtoa to Hopetoun railway line was upgraded as part of an early stage of this.
The VFF has in recent months suggested kickstarting the project could be crucial to filling a regional jobs void.
Member for Mallee Anne Webster said the ball was in the state government's court.
"The government has continued to sit on a business case which we have encouraged them to provide to stakeholders for stakeholder feedback," Dr Webster said.
"The federal government will not be throwing good many after bad, and I say that justifiably in that the Victorian auditor general report on the MBRP was scathing. We are relying on the state government to provide an open business case before it goes back to us again."
Farmers for Climate Action, which has Wimmera members, said the budget was a "missed opportunity".
"FCA welcomes investment in resilience-building under the Future Drought Fund," said chief executive Wendy Cohen, "as well as cleaner energy in food manufacturing, rural mental health, incentives for microgrids in farming communities, and new efforts to build a recycling industry.
"(But) a clean, renewables-led recovery could have put the Australian economy on a more solid and sustainable path to recovery, tackling the pandemic and the rising risks of climate change at the same time."
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