Government announces drought assistance

Government announces drought assistance


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Photo by Laura Ferguson.

Photo by Laura Ferguson.

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The Victorian Government has announced $5 million in funding to support Victorian farmers experiencing drought conditions.

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The Victorian Government has announced $5 million in funding to support Victorian farmers experiencing drought conditions, but not all of it has been positively received.

The main portion of the funding will go into Drought Infrastructure Grants, with $1.4 million put towards providing financial support to help establish areas to contain stock.

A further $1.2 million will help establish a Drought Employment Program, to give drought-affected farmers in the Wellington and East Gippsland shires the opportunity to earn an income off-farm by working with local Catchment Management Authorities.

Workers will be involved in a range of tasks, including building fences along rivers, stock control and weed management.

But there are concerns farmers who are most affected by drought don’t have the time or resources to be away from their farms.

Nicholson farmer Tom Gannon said he wouldn’t be able to neglect his stock to go and work for eight hours a day elsewhere.

“I know a lot of farmers wouldn’t be in a position to go and work, we’ve got responsibilities to look after our animals that we’re retaining as the base for our breeding,” Mr Gannon said.

But he said containment yards have helped him during drought, so funds to support other farmers to build them on their farms would be of great help.

Technical and business support worth $1 million will also be offered to farmers to manage financial decisions on-farm, including animal health, feed budgeting and land management.

The package also includes $400,000 for the Look Over The Farm Gate Program to better support the mental health of farmers through workshops and events, $500,000 for drought co-ordinators in Gippsland, and additional coordination effort in northern irrigation areas and north-west Victoria, $500,000 for a Community Resilience Program, and $400,000 to increase the Rural Financial Counselling Service.

Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said she hoped the support offered would help farmers get back on track.

“We know some farmers are doing it tough and conditions are dry, that’s why we’re taking action and investing in these initiatives to give these communities the support that they need,” Ms Pulford said.

Mr Gannon said he was disappointed the Government hadn’t offered freight subsidies, as those costs are crippling his finances.

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