I am no stranger to pushing the barrow for agriculture.
As a farmer for 30-odd years before entering State Parliament, I know how vital it is to be competitive and efficient in a world-wide market. Any regulations that impact on that efficiency are detrimental to us as producers.
This is why the State Liberal Party has begun releasing agricultural policy, in the lead up to the 2018 State Election.
Farm debt mediation, multi-peril crop insurance, Dog Fence levy increase and poppy cultivation are just some issues we have looked at and pledged a commitment to.
We believe the State should be looking for any options which allow farmers to diversify their business. This is why we recently passed legislation to enable SA farmers to enter the lucrative poppy growing industry. Stringent safeguards must be met, of course, but farmers will be given the chance to capitalise on the growing demand of the crop used in the production of painkillers.
The Liberal Party has also committed to waiving stamp duty for farmers purchasing multi-peril crop insurance. This will increase the affordability of insurance, meaning farmers should at least break-even should their crop fail. Not only will this increase the protection for farms against events such as drought or frost, but will reduce financial stress and concern on the farmers and their families. Currently farmers pay 11 per cent stamp duty on insurance premiums.
I spoke in support of another Bill in Parliament, to ensure there are sufficient funds and resources to maintain the Dog Fence. The Dog Fence is sustained by funds acquired via a landowner levy, sheep sale transaction fee and a dollar for dollar Government contribution. These levy rates have been increased, to ensure costs are covered and the fence is adequately kept, and the Government has a legislative responsibility to continue to match these funds. The Dog Fence is an iconic structure, protecting sheep flocks in the southern half of the State, therefore ensuring security for farming properties.
Lastly, the Liberal Party has a bill in the Legislative Council that ensures mandatory mediation between farmers and creditors before foreclosure. In essence, the Bill will establish a process by which banks are prevented from selling the farm out from underneath its owners, without undergoing a process of debt mediation to see is suitable terms can be met. This should give farmers the best possible opportunity to keep their farms operational.