COMMENT: AG minister Joe Ludwig has taken heat over the live export ban but he's managed to keep big cuts from the farm budget.
And make no mistake, agriculture was a target for a party which is desperate to manufacture a surplus, hampered by lost revenue and spending on natural disasters, and doesn't get any farm votes anyway.
The continuation of stewardship program Caring for Our Country is the big win, especially since the Biodiversity Fund – which bears some similarity to CFOC - continues as part of the carbon price legislation also.
CFOC, which replaced the Howard Government's National Heritage Trust, is a program which gets real results on the ground.
Landcare groups and other volunteers would have been horrified to lose it.
And the $480 million for a biosecurity centre in Melbourne is a good move, so long as it actually reduces the risk of a biosecurity incursion.
Naturally, all animals and high risk plants being imported to the country should be scrutinised with the most modern technology possible.
Frontline inspections are the real weapon in the biosecurity battle and they've been boosted by the $125 million going to them.
But inspection rates will still remain very low, even if they’re boosted.
The exporters, horticultural exporters in particular, will ask why some of that money couldn't have gone to keeping the 40 per cent rebate on compulsory export inspections, which they say are making export unviable.
Horticultural exporters are going to the wall and government needs to do something about it, particularly if we’re to become the food bowl for Asia which Prime Minister Julia Gillard apparently wants us to be.
The loss of FarmReady, which offered training to farmers, is lamentable. The fact it was expected does not make the cut any less real.
The tax break for 4000 farm businesses – now able to claim losses in one year against profits from another – is fantastic for those who can claim it.
Only incorporated businesses will be eligible and then only a fifth of those.
The worry is that this could be another tax break which will apply to corporate farming and see the family farm left less competitive.
In a general sense, Labor has aimed to play to its traditional values in this budget and appeal to its roots – several sweeteners can be found in the budget for low to lower-middle class Australians and the elderly, while a tax cut for big business has been scrapped.