Nationals support farmers’ calls for genuine drought relief

Pressure is on the Andrews Labor Government to direct drought support where it’s needed most, instead of more band aid fixes that don’t provide genuine relief.

Today, Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh and Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath were on a farm at Glengarry to meet with locals and get an update on where support was needed.

Discussing the ongoing impact of drought, they highlighted the need to extend support to farmers in Latrobe City Council and to take action to ensure Victorian farmers aren’t unfairly disadvantaged by transport subsidies being offered to drought-affected farmers in New South Wales.

“There’s fears that dwindling access to fodder supplies will only get tighter with NSW farmers able to access subsidies that cover up to half the cost of their freight,” Mr Walsh said.

“Labor’s Agriculture Minister’s excuse for failing to act is that Victorian farmers can access up to $3500 in cash grants – I just don’t see how it compares.

“If the Minister won’t stop NSW putting our farmers at a disadvantage she’ll have to match the subsidy to support Victorian farmers.”

From July 1, farm businesses in NSW can access a further $40,000 to assist with the cost of transporting stock, fodder and water within NSW or from interstate.

Farmers in Latrobe City Council are also under added pressure, with the Andrews Government refusing to extend drought programs to the region.

“Pastures will take years to recover, as will restocking for those farmers who were forced to make the heart-breaking decision to sell,” Ms Bath said.

“The drought doesn’t end at the border of Wellington and East Gippsland shires – Latrobe City farmers also desperately need support.”

Farmers in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley are also frustrated the Andrews Government’s drought package still doesn’t provide council rates relief, which is seen as a fair and equitable way to ease the financial pressure on farmers.

“Farm rates relief will provide fair and equitable assistance to all farmers who are struggling under the pressure of the ongoing drought,” Mr Walsh said.

“It means Gippsland farmers can put that extra money where it’s needed most, like using it to buy or transport stock, feed or fodder.”