The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is urging flood and fire affected farmers and rural communities across five Australian states to access disaster recovery payments, after a month of devastating bushfires and major floods. Thousands of farmers in TAS, NSW, VIC and SA can access the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements payments following the devastation of this month’s bushfires, while farmers in QLD and northern NSW can now access the payments following the destructive winds and floods of ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald. The Federal Government’s announcement of the latest disaster relief funding – for flood affected residents across 46 QLD and 10 NSW local government areas – follows the release of natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements for 71 NSW, seven VIC, six TAS and one SA local government areas during January in response to the devastating bushfires across these states. NFF President Jock Laurie welcomed the relief funding, and urged farmers and rural communities affected by the bushfires and floods to access the payments. “What an introduction to 2013 our farmers have had. Over the course of this month, we’ve seen bushfires emblaze more than 600,000 hectares of land across four states, with the loss of thousands of livestock and major damage to farm land and infrastructure including sheds and fences. And from one extreme to another, we’re now seeing widespread damage to farming land and communities via Queensland’s fourth major flood in three years,” Mr Laurie said. “At this stage it’s still very hard to assess the full extent of the damage as floodwaters are still rising in many areas along the east coast – but what we do know is that the damage bill will extend into the millions. “Of course, while the fires and floods have, and in many cases will continue to, cause great damage and loss for some farmers and communities, others will benefit from the renewal and regrowth that come following fires, and the soaking rains and floodwaters that are bringing much-needed moisture to many crops. “What we know from years of droughts, floods and fires is that our Australian farmers are extremely resilient and willing to help each other out in times of need. What they are not always so good at doing is putting their hands up when they need assistance – so today we urge those that have suffered losses to access the financial support available,” Mr Laurie said. NFF members, including state farming organisations and commodity councils, are continuing to work closely with the governments in their respective states to ensure farmers receive the help they require, while the NFF will continue to work with government on the federal level. Further information on the Federal Government’s Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements is available via the http://www.disasterassist.gov.au[Disaster Assist] website.