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Carr Government jeopardising the future of FarmBis.

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DAFF05/132WT - 19 May 2005

Carr Government jeopardising the future of FarmBis

Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss today advised his NSW counterpart that FarmBis funding earmarked for NSW farmers was in jeopardy if a bilateral agreement was not concluded by 30 June 2005.

Mr Truss said the pressure is now on the NSW Government to show there is money in the state's coffers for the highly successful FarmBis program when the State Budget is brought down on 24 May.

"I am extremely concerned by the continuing failure of the NSW Government to commit to the new AAA FarmBis program," he said.

"I have again written to the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, advising him of my disappointment and saying that without prompt confirmation of the NSW Government's financial commitment, I cannot guarantee Australian Government funds will be on the table forever.

"Despite earlier claims by the NSW Government that they were prepared to provide funding to the new FarmBis program, there has been no action to support the rhetoric.

"FarmBis was a very popular program in NSW and this has been acknowledged by the NSW Government. The refusal to commit funding goes against the principle of supporting primary producers.

"I reject any claim that the Australian Government is somehow to blame for the delay in commencement of the program in NSW. All other states have agreed to the now familiar arrangements and their training programs are up and running.

"The farmers who have participated in the 48,000 training sessions run since the program's inception in 1997 are no doubt disappointed with the NSW Government's actions.

"I remain ready to sign the FarmBis agreement with NSW as soon as possible and urge the NSW Minister for Primary Industries to take action immediately to ensure that NSW farmers are not further disadvantaged by the delay," he said.

A member of Mr Truss's ministerial staff will be contacting Mr Macdonald's office every day until the NSW Budget is released to keep the pressure on.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Kylie Butler - 02 6277 7520 or 0417 652 488

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