News

$100 million added to Federal drought support funding + VIDEO

Beef Central, 27/09/2019

Prime Minister Scott Morrison posted this video from near Oakey this morning where he was travelling with Jack Berne from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, who has raised $1.6m for farmers through his ‘A fiver for a Farmer’ campaign

 

SPEAKING at Dalby today Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced plans to provide more funding to support farmers and rural communities and moves to cut red tape and increase assistance services.

Mr Morrison said a new support package will deliver nearly $100 million to drought-hit communities, which is on top of more than $7 billion in drought support funding already provided by the Government.

“Supporting drought affected communities remains our Government’s most urgent priority,” the Prime Minister said.

“I know that things are only getting harder for many farmers and rural communities, and that’s why we are taking further action and providing even more support.

“We’ve been in constant contact with farmers and businesses, and we’re using their feedback to keep improving our response.

“As I’ve said before, this isn’t set and forget. We need to keep listening and keep taking action.

“We know we can’t make it rain, but we must keep finding ways to do everything we can to make life just a bit easier and remove some of the burden. That’s why our Government is providing more money to help people with bills, more money for counselling and more money to local councils.

“We’ve got to get more cash into these communities and cut more red tape, making it easier to access support.

“I will do everything in my power to ease the burden on farmers and their communities. That’s our Government’s promise.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the package of measures would provide an immediate economic stimulus at the local level as well as employment for people whose work has been affected by drought.

“We are delivering $33.42 million to resume the Drought Community Support Initiative, which will deliver up to $3000 to eligible farming households experiencing hardship due to drought,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“And we are providing a $13 million extension to the Drought Community Programme to deliver support at the local government level where it counts.

“Thirteen Local Government Areas will be provided up to $1 million for local infrastructure and drought relief products.”

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said targeted relief followed careful assessment of the current challenges farmers were facing.

“We know that FHA is a vital hand-up for farmers in times of need—but the Independent Review of Farm Household Allowance told us it could be improved,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Farming families have told me that the FHA program does not currently treat them as business owners and places a real burden on farmers already doing it tough. This was reflected in the review.

“Today we are announcing a radical simplification of the FHA application process and key settings.

“We will remove the requirement for business income reconciliation, change the time limit on payment from four years in total to four out of every  ten years, simplify the assets test, recognise agistment as being part of primary production income, and redesign the application process. For the first time, couples will be able to apply for the payment using just one application.

“These changes will make FHA quicker and easier to access, better reflect the nature of farm businesses, and to acknowledge that farmers may experience more than one period of hardship in their lifetime.

“Some of these changes will require amendments to legislation, but through Centrelink we will implement as many of the changes to the application process immediately.”

Minister McKenzie also announced today an injection of $740,000 of contingency funding to five Rural Financial Counselling Service providers who are experiencing pressure from increased demand for their services.

Minister for Drought David Littleproud said the Coalition Government was delivering a comprehensive suite of support measures to farmers in hardship.

“This shows our commitment to stay flexible and respond as needed,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Today’s announcement further strengthens our drought response which includes concessional loans, farm management deposits, tax breaks, and mental health support.

“The government is already providing more than $7 billion in assistance and concessional loans to support those affected by drought.”

“This shows the Coalition Government’s commitment and belief in hard working farming families.”

NSW Farmers calls for more action, less talk

Additional Federal Government drought support must be rolled out immediately, according to NSW Farmers.

NSW Farmers Vice President Chris Groves said farmers are destocking, facing failed crops and desperately looking for water to maintain permanent plantings.

“Many have no or little income to service their loans and pay standing charges, including Local Government Rates,” Mr Grove said.

“Coupled with the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecasts of little or no rain, it means farmers from the coast to the State’s borders are facing ongoing challenges and having to make hard decisions.”

NSW Farmers has welcomed the Federal cash injections through the Drought Community Support Initiative and the funding to Councils for infrastructure, which includes Kyogle, Temora and Murray in NSW.

“Again, this drought relief must commence immediately to allow Councils to make the decision about how this funding will best support their communities.”

“The Federal Government has fallen behind in terms of providing direct drought relief, with their focus being on low interest loan options.”

Mr Groves said the Association does welcome moves to streamline the application process for the Farm Household Allowance (FHA).

“Any changes that make the FHA quicker and easier to access is good news. More and more farm businesses will be making applications and Centrelink must step up to ensure that their customer facing staff and assessment officers deliver service that is both timely and recognises the pressure that farmers are facing.”

To support those farmers applying for the FHA and other government support measures, Federal Minister for Agriculture Bridgette McKenzie has also announced a $740,000 injection for the Rural Financial Counselling Service as part of the new package.

“The Prime Minister says this new package is additional to the $7 billion commitment, but there is scant detail about how and where this funding has been delivered to date, and importantly how the funding has supported farmers.

“Our members are telling us that while they welcome the opportunity to access concessional loans, the administration and time lags mean delays in infrastructure delivery. Many farm businesses are simply unable to take on extra debt.”

“We recognises that government drought response is a shared effort between farmers, local, State and the Commonwealth. The NSW Government has been proactive and delivered nearly $2 billion in drought support to date.

Mr Groves said NSW farmers is calling for additional Federal funding to LGAs for water carting and to offset the cost of rate rebates for cash-strapped farmers and agriculture dependent local businesses, consideration of farm-exit packages, and subsidies to maintain on-farm employment.

Drought measures ‘life-changing’ for many families: AgForce

AgForce has described the $100 million of new Federal drought assistance measures as “not just welcome, but life-changing”.

AgForce Grains President Brendan Taylor, whose property is at Bowenville near where the announcement was made, said the measures would help farming families put food on their table, reduce the stress of finding money to pay bills, and keep communities going as conditions continue to deteriorate with no rain in sight.

“We commend Mr Morrison for listening to the advice and requests of AgForce and rural producers, and implementing a compassionate and forward-looking package of new initiatives,” Mr Taylor said.

“In particular, the common-sense changes made to the Farm Household Allowance in response to our feedback are significant and will make this vital assistance package more accessible to more people in tough times.

“The re-introduction of the Drought Community Support Initiative, through which farming families experiencing hardship can receive grants of up to to $3,000, will also provide a financial and emotional boost, especially in the lead-up to the Christmas period.

“We also welcome the commitment to reskilling and retraining programs that will assist producers to find other work to maintain some income during times of hardship.

“Combined with the money available to 13 local councils to undertake drought-related infrastructure projects, this will provide additional employment opportunities for producers and economic stimulus to their local communities.

“These are both targeted programs that will provide vital financial assistance in the short-term, as well as long-term benefit to the agriculture industry and the community.

“Additional funding for essential support services – such as through charities and financial counselling – will be critical in helping farming families with their backs to the wall to not only survive but to build resilience.”

Mr Taylor said AgForce and the wider industry were appreciative of the Morrison Government’s ‘listening style’ and will work with them on additional assistance if conditions deteriorated further.

“Even though farm income slows or even stops during a drought, bills do not, and this creates an enormous amount of stress on families,” he said.

“In addition to essentials like food, fuel and utilities, large long-term expenses such as land rent, GST bills and Council rates become impossible to pay when no money is coming in.

“And when you have been in drought for, in many cases, up to seven years, it can escalate into a significant financial burden.”

Source: Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Farmers, AgForce

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Comments

  1. Athol Hipwell, 10/10/2019

    2 years ago I tried to get rural aid. I was told I was not eligible because I had gone “off farm” to try and support myself with external income.
    This year I had health issues which prevented me from working off farm. When I applied for newstart I was rejected because of farm assets. I was then redirected to Rural Aid where I was finally accepted. By this time some of the deadlines for assistance applications had passed.
    I have lost 2 years in being able to apply due to (what I’ve been told) was incorrect information 2 years ago.
    I have also missed a payment/grant that expired 30th June 2019.
    My bank wont refinance me because of my age for what they call “responsible lending”.
    I applied for 7% of the value of my property loan refinance to allow me to settle with my exspouse. If I need to sell my main farm to repay the debt I was/am prepared to. The bank continually gives me the run around by asking to send forms that I have already sent (some times twice). I feel they are wasting time in the hope I will give up but I am not a quitter. The thing that will beat me is I go to court in 2 weeks and the NAB bank are still saying they want forms redone. They say that the forms have changed from when I applied to now.
    I have been told by my local bank manager that the new loans office that was started in July 2019 has not worked out as they had expected due to a lack of experience within the office.
    So here I am with almost no money left (when I could have been getting support 2 years ago), the prospect of losing my farm and a bank I’ve been with for many years not wanting to support me.

  2. Alexandra Phelps, 27/09/2019

    Lets remember this is more than any preceding government has done for us. We need to be grateful for any and all help we recieve, and we truly are. The conditions continue to be tough for us all, but any assistance and support is welcomed and wonderful. Thanks Scomo!

  3. Annette, 27/09/2019

    besides agricultural business, is there help for other business owners?

  4. Paul Franks, 27/09/2019

    I wonder why MLA will not do their bit and reduce the $5 a head levy for grass fed producers forced to sell cattle.

    Every little bit helps.

  5. Jill Purcell, 27/09/2019

    Help in the form of subsidy for purchase of hay, meals ,licks and protein supplements should be on the list, 100% to keep the export industry grass roots alive . The breeders and young stock are what need the funds to keep them alive.. To keep the livestock alive till after the rain has fallen and the grass has grown. Adding more money to staff to share the money out does not go the drought stricken graziers and farmers, it employs more people in the cities . Have people in the country areas for the places to spread the funds not the cities. Councils have staff to burn, give them some work to do in a hurry and wake them all up to what is happening outside their air conditioned offices.

  6. Scotty Hann, 27/09/2019

    This is the biggest crock I’ve heard from this government! Scott Morrison is trying to make himself look good, when at the end of the day nothing has changed. Once again lots of words and compassion and promises, without any substance.
    I don’t know who his advisors are , but they all need a reality check.
    If you can get a message to Mr Morrison, I’m sending an invitation to him to come spend a day with me , spend some time looking at my books , my accounts and talk about my future!!!!! Putting money into mental health without addressing the problem is a joke , what’s he going to do , medicate everyone? Or perhaps just give us all some dope , to ease our pain !!!!!!
    I formally invite Scott Morrison to attend my farm and spend some time with me.
    Would be great if you could get this to him , but fear he’s too busy organising a trip to Mars!!!!
    Thank you,
    Cheers Scotty Hann

  7. Jon cumming, 27/09/2019

    With all this Drought Assistance when is someone going to increase staffing levels so we can receive freight subsidies as well as water infrastructure rebates in a timely fashion!!
    8-10 weeks for water & up to 4 weeks for freight after being approved is not good enough!!!
    We are trying to use our subsidies to buy more fodder but can’t till we get some cash!!!

  8. Val mai, 27/09/2019

    We need a national rates cut for farmers. Right now.

    • Howard Smith, 27/09/2019

      When will we as a industry stop privatising profits and socialising losses. Howard Smith Rolleston




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