The Victorian Farmers Federation has welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement of $25 million in expanded relief arrangements for farmers dealing with drought in parts of the state.
VFF President David Jochinke in welcoming the expanded relief arrangements also called on the government to ensure measures such as infrastructure grants available to farmers are meaningful for effective change, and added that relief from fixed-term costs such as council rates should also be addressed.
“The focus on additional support for mental health, small business planning and support for parents of school and kindergarten children, is all welcome, as is the expansion of previously announced Drought Infrastructure Grants for central and east Gippsland to include farmers in parts of northern Victoria, Wimmera and the Mallee,” said Mr Jochinke.
“The VFF also notes funding allocated for wild pest and animal control and is eager hear how this will be used to speed up processing of cull permits.”
This announcement follows an earlier call from VFF for expanded relief arrangements in parts of the state including Gippsland, the northern region, Mallee and Wimmera, with worsening drought conditions spreading further across Victoria as we moved into Spring.
“The VFF has been lobbying behind the scenes for some months given worsening drought conditions confronting farmers, and welcomes the announcement of additional measures which may provide some relief for communities,” said Mr Jochinke.
“The VFF in particular has been calling for the target area for Drought Infrastructure Grants to be expanded beyond east and central Gippsland, to include other regions facing drought conditions, including the northern region, Mallee and Wimmera.
“While we welcome the government’s extended package, we would again stress the importance of ensuring grants allocated are adequate to offer genuine on-farm relief from drought, while promoting long term preparedness and resilience, while relief from local council rates is also provided.
“To be frank, when farmers are looking at failed crops and paying thousands of dollars to buy feed for animals, a $1000 infrastructure grant and the time and paperwork it takes to secure it may not be meaningful for effective change.
“A farmer’s variable income takes a significant hit during times of drought, yet at the same time some councils have increased their farm rates bills by as much as 20 to 50 per cent, which flies in the face of the huge impact drought conditions are already having on rural and regional communities.
“With the state election fast approaching the VFF will continue demanding action on rates from all candidates and parties, as well as a genuine vision for Victorian agriculture which promotes the long-term sustainability, resilience and profitability of our sector.”