Australia announces new stimulus to shield farmers from COVID-19 fallout

Australian Government announces stimulus package to assist farm business as part of a strategy to counteract the economic shock of COVID-19.
calendar icon 17 March 2020
clock icon 2 minute read

According to a statement from Australian Farmers, the package comes as Australian markets tumble by 30 percent from its February peak on 13 March. NFF CEO Tony Mahar said that the package was a welcome boost for Australia's agriculture industry. 

"The measures in [the] stimulus package will benefit farm businesses, small businesses and households," he said. 

The package includes tax relief for small businesses, one-off cash payments for welfare recipients and money to keep apprentices in work. The Government plan also includes $1 billion for a "regional and community fund" to support industries affected by the economic fallout of the coronavirus - including agriculture. 

"The NFF hopes the stimulus will be directed to those industries and regions already directly affected by the virus," Mr Mahar said. 

Australia’s red meat industry has remained strong despite a small decline in demand in China with Meat and Livestock Australia reporting a slight shift in beef export figures with total shipments easing 2 percent compared to February 2019.

Mr Mahar said an emerging challenge was also managing a decline in the international workforce many farmers rely on.

“A large proportion of the agricultural sector including the horticulture, pork and grain sectors depend on seasonal workers or backpackers,” Mr Mahar said.

“We do not want to see a threat to the supply of fruits such as bananas, berries and citrus should there be a major disruption to these working visa arrangements.

“About three quarters of Australia’s agricultural output is exported.

“As the spread of the virus expands and market access and freight capacity contract, we can expect a wider negative impact on agriculture.”

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