National Farmers' Federation

Further support for drought-affected communities

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement in Longreach today of an additional $83 million of new funding to assist communities impacted by the ongoing drought in QLD and NSW.
NFF President Brent Finlay said the announcement comes at a critical time for drought-stricken communities in crisis, and follows approaches by the peak farm body to the Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture in recent months.
The package is made up of a series of measures, including:
• a $35 million infrastructure and employment package for drought-affected communities;
• $25.8 million for pest and weed management;
• $20 million to increase access to mental health and community support services; and
• an extra $1.8 million to the Rural Financial Counselling Service.
The Government will also roll over existing funding for the current concessional loan schemes for a further 12 months to 30 June 2016, bringing the combined total of today’s package to $333 million.
“Towns and regional centres in drought-affected areas of QLD and NSW rely heavily on agriculture to underpin local industry and employment. When farmers are doing it tough, it takes a toll on the whole community,” Mr Finlay said.
“Delivering funding for local government projects will create much-needed employment opportunities and ease the recovery process once the drought breaks.”
The package also includes crucial funding for mental health and social wellbeing.
“The mental health implications of drought can be extremely debilitating, especially for those who find it hard to get the help they need. We are extremely pleased to see additional funding to improve access to support services in affected areas.
“Additionally, the $25.8 million for pest and weed control in drought areas will be a welcome relief to producers struggling with enormous kangaroo populations and the effects of wild dogs.
While the Government has announced a 12 month extension for the Drought Concessional Loans and Drought Recovery Concessional Loans, today’s announcement does not touch on the eligibility criteria or terms of the loans which have caused angst for many in the farm sector. Also untouched is the Farm Household Allowance scheme which has proven difficult to access for some farmers.
“The NFF will be continuing to advocate for improved access to the concessional loan and Farm Household Allowance schemes, which are falling short for producers in need,” Mr Finlay said.
“We look forward to working with government as assistance is rolled out, and on continuing to improve the existing measures.
“Overall, today’s announcement is good news for these communities, and a positive sign of this Government’s commitment to the agriculture sector.”

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