Bath seeks improved drought assistance for Gippsland farmers

Farmers in East and Central Gippsland are currently struggling with drought conditions impacting their farms across the Gippsland region.  Assistance from governments during these periods are essential to ensuring the long term survival of our farmers and the local agriculture industry.

The agriculture sector is a significant contributor to the regional Victorian economy with the sector producing over $13.1 billion worth of milk, fruit, vegetables, meat, fibre, eggs and grains and employing hundreds of thousands of people.

The Nationals Melina Bath, Member for Eastern Victoria Region said the prolonged dry conditions being experienced in parts of Gippsland is heartbreaking with many of our local farmers doing it really tough. The drought is impacting on productivity and stock condition as well as adversely affecting the financial and mental wellbeing of our farming families.  Supporting the needs of the agriculture industry in Gippsland requires a multi-agency, multi-government approach.  Farmers in East Gippsland and parts of Central Gippsland are suffering chronic drought conditions and are struggling to feed their stock and keep breeding stock in condition.

“My colleague, Hon Tim Bull, Member for Gippsland East has recently raised the need to expedite permits to control native animals impacting on crops and competing for pasture for the spring period ahead.”

Supports available for local farmers include the Farm Household Allowance Scheme, interest free loans and Rural Counsellors to provide ongoing support.

“Rural Financial Counsellors perform a vital role within the farming community by engaging farmers and offering ‘case by case’ consultations and referral services,” said Ms Bath.

“While state and federal supports are in place there are some issues being experienced by people accessing these services.  Farmers seeking support from the Farm Household Allowance Scheme and interest free loan applications are reporting the process is quite arduous and is taking many hours to complete.

“This week in parliament I impressed upon the Minister the urgency to ask her federal counterparts to speed up the process for Farm Household Allowance and interest free loan applications and offer any state government assistance in the process.

“In addition to expediting the application process I have also requested the Minister fast-track additional Rural Financial Counsellors, so they can do the work they need to do to support our farmers.”