Australia, 26 April 2013: GE welcomes the recommendation to the Australian Government to preserve farmers' access to assistance and income as hosts of resource and energy projects, such as wind farms.
GE Renewables Asia-Pacific Leader, Peter Cowling, said the recommendation by the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) to lift the non-farm taxable income threshold under the Farm Management Deposit (FMD) Scheme would help boost investment, create jobs and support the co-existence of agricultural and resource and energy projects, including coal seam gas extraction and wind farms.
"We urge the Government to increase the FMD Scheme's non-farm taxable income limit from $65,000 to $100,000 as recommended by NRAC," Mr Cowling said.
"In conversation with primary producers, we understood the importance of non-farm income and access to programs such as the FMD Scheme, particularly during poor seasons, times of natural disaster and in light of commodity price fluctuations.
"As a technology and services supplier as well as financier of renewable energy projects, we were concerned about the threshold and urged the Government to increase it in order to preserve farming families' access to income as hosts of such projects.
"With Australia striving for the bipartisan target of 45,000 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity generation by 2020, we anticipate an increase in wind farm projects. These changes to the FMD Scheme and the stability of the fixed Renewable Energy Target will promote the ongoing viability of agricultural farms as well as increased investment and employment in wind farms to help ensure both forms of farming can co-exist," , said Cowling.
The 2012 Climate Change Authority review of the Renewable Energy Target heard that more than 8,000 people were employed in the renewable energy sector in Australia, with annual investment in renewable energy projects, including wind farms, exceeding $5 billion in 2011.
In 2011, the bipartisan Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into The Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms reported that; "For the hosts, the income received from rent or lease of their land to wind farm operators may be the difference between having a viable business and losing their livelihood."
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