Drought payouts up to $7 million

Drought affected farmers embrace on-farm infrastructure grants


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Infrastructure grants: The State Governments On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants could be used to upgrade stock watering systems.

Infrastructure grants: The State Governments On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants could be used to upgrade stock watering systems.

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On-farm infrastructure grants enable farmers to free up cash flow while investing in ways to manage dry conditions and future recovery.

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More than $7 million in payments has already been paid under the On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants (OFDISG) to around 1759 applicants.

The grants, worth up to $5000 each, were introduced to help farmers implement on-farm infrastructure that improved drought management and climate change preparedness.

According to figures released by Agriculture Victoria, under the State Government initiated grant scheme, some 1550 applications had been paid or given approval in-principle.

According to Agriculture Victoria, which delivers the scheme, common works that had been funded included stock containment area implementation or upgrades, grain and fodder storage, reticulated water systems for livestock and irrigation system upgrades.

There have been applications from all eligible local government areas.

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There was strong uptake in Wellington and East Gippsland (nearly 260 applications from these two shires – 15 per cent of all applications).

There were more than 150 applications received from both the Buloke and Loddon shires and more than 100 from Yarriambiack and Moira shires.

Rural Finance head of operations government services Peter Nee said the grants scheme was needed to address a combination of issues, including the growing onset of dry conditions in Gippsland and particularly East Gippsland and then other parts of rural Victoria.

The conditions had caused difficult financial circumstances for a lot of primary producers trying to manage their cash flow.

In those situations a lot of farmers were looking to spend money to manage the impact of the drought and dry conditions and future recovery.

Farmers wanted to free up their cash flow to feed their stock but also to look after their own family needs and other business needs.

Mr Nee said the best way to do that was to look at a grants program that would fund infrastructure that helped farmers manage the drought as well as recovery.

He said the choice of project was about minimising the impact on cash flow and getting farmers through to the break with the ability to set themselves up for the season ahead.

The guidelines were available on the Rural Finance website.

Farmers needed to then decide what sort of infrastructure, what the cost of that was and understanding that it was a joint funding requirement – matched dollar for dollar.

Farmers also needed to ensure the materials or the ability to carry out the project was possible as early as possible to have an immediate impact on the business.

Decisions needed to take into account what project would have the greatest impact for the investment.

Mr Nee said there was a requirement to provide invoices and receipts for the items being purchased prior to the funding being released so that the applicant could be reimbursed for 50pc of the total up to $5000.

He said it was a fairly speedy turnaround, with confirmation to applicants that the infrastructure they have applied for was eligible and approved in principle, within two weeks.

The applicant could then make their purchases.

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