Farmers disappointed by state drought relief

THE region’s farmers have been left crestfallen, after the state Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes visited Gippsland on Friday to announce a “relatively small contribution” for drought support, that excluded rate relief.
The $12.6 million package includes one-off payments for farmers in central and east Gippsland, as well as northern Victorian dairy farmers, of up to $3500 for farmers aged under 35 and those receiving the Farm Household Allowance.
After calling for rate relief for more than a year, the region’s farmers say the “cash injection” will do little to ease the stress of rates and monthly feed bills.
When questioned why the Victorian government had only given $43 million in drought support funding, while the New South Wales government had pledged more than $1 billion when the Bureau of Meteorology had declared drought severity in Gippsland as similar, if not the same, to many areas of NSW, Ms Symes said they were different situations.
“I’m here to talk about the $13 million package today, which in total is a $43 million package, and also calling on the federal government to provide more funding so that we can get that to our farmers.” Ms Symes said she expected most farmers would put the payment toward their rate bill but did not want to dictate that.
“I am not announcing rate subsidies today, I am not ruling it out in the future.” When asked by the Gippsland Times when Premier Daniel Andrews will be visiting the part of the state east of Traralgon, she advised “the premier’s diary is a matter for him”.
“Even this time last year, we were drier than most of NSW, so that’s really hard to watch.” Ms Harrison encouraged the state government to devise a drought support program with milestones for uniform assistance.
“This drought has shown that it would be good if there were certain triggers that started different support levels,” she said.
“There should have been triggers set after the millennium drought where situations didn’t get this bad in the first place.” Ms Harrison said she believed rate relief would have been the most equitable drought support option.
“It is a cash injection, and yes we are thankful for it, but it’s not going to go far, and we hope for more.” Sponsored

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