National Farmers' Federation

Drought relief package welcomed

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today welcomed the announcement of a relief package designed to help farmers, their families and communities currently in the grips of severe drought.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, announced a suite of measures this morning, offering financial, social and mental health support.
NFF President Brent Finlay said the announcement demonstrates that the Government has listened to the NFF’s call for a short-term drought relief package, and consequently, has delivered many of the measures proposed by the NFF.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to bring forward a package that is both fiscally responsible and considerate of circumstances suffered by rural communities in many parts of Australia,” Mr Finlay said.
“We thank the Prime Minister for his recent visit to drought-affected regions. We commend Minister Joyce for his continued efforts as a champion for Australian agriculture. We also appreciate the bipartisan approach from Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon,” he said.
The measures delivered in today’s announcement will address many issues faced by farmers in drought, including rising debt levels, capacity to make household payments, limited water for livestock, personal stress, and managing pest animals.
While some of the measures called on by the NFF were not included, such as rural workforce assistance and the delivery of independent professional advice, the NFF will continue to focus efforts on longer-term drought policy reform.
“This package is designed to provide assistance here and now. We must keep agriculture on the national agenda. We need to ensure clear and defined drought policy is a matter of priority for the Government,” Mr Finlay said.
“The long-term policy void is not good for farmers, the Government or the broader community. We need a drought policy framework that focuses on preparedness but also recognises that in-event and recovery support is sometimes needed, as we have seen today.
“Farming communities must have a solid understanding of available options now, and into the future. Uncertainty on agricultural policies is not helping the competitiveness of Australian farmers. We will be looking to address many of these matters through the Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper,” Mr Finlay said.
Farmers affected by the drought should contact their relevant state authorities to inquire about appropriate assistance, and should not self-assess.

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