Queensland producers can now access up to 75 per cent of eligible costs for water infrastructure activities with the Australian Government’s contribution of up to $7 million to the Queensland Government’s Drought Relief Assistance Scheme.
Australian Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, and Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, John McVeigh, signed an agreement to increase funding for water-related infrastructure rebates announced in November 2013.
“The Australian Government is delivering on its promise to provide support for farmers, especially those affected by drought,” Minister Joyce said.
“This Water Infrastructure Rebate provides up to an additional 25 per cent of the expenses eligible applicants receive under the Queensland Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate.
“This contribution will assist farmers in Queensland to invest in infrastructure to supply water for a range of factors including emergency animal welfare needs that will build resilient businesses and help prepare for future droughts,” Minister Joyce said.
“Those who had previously applied for a rebate do not need to re-apply to access the additional funding. The Queensland Government will automatically re-assess their application as part of the new guidelines.
“Investments in new watering points and the installation of infrastructure such as piping, tanks, troughs and hoses will help manage pasture on properties and help keep stock away from sensitive watercourses.
“This is a tangible, on-ground and lasting investment in sustainable agriculture,” Minister Joyce said.
Minister McVeigh welcomed the extra $7 million funding from Canberra to boost the Queensland emergency water infrastructure rebates from 50 per cent to up to 75 per cent.
“The 364 farmers who have already got Queensland's emergency water infrastructure rebate, will receive the federal top up in their bank accounts tonight,” Mr McVeigh said.
“A further 180 applicants who have been recently processed for the Queensland rebate will receive payments for both the Queensland rebate and the federal top up this week.”
This means $1.86 million of the federal top up will be distributed in the coming days.
All successful future claims for the Queensland rebate will be automatically considered for the Australian Government's top up.
Minister McVeigh said the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate payment was proving a successful program for improving water supplies for drought-affected farms.
The Queensland Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate is delivered through the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
For more information on the Queensland Government’s Drought Relief Assistance Scheme or to apply visit www.daff.qld.gov.au/environment/drought/assistance/drought-relief-assistance-scheme-dras.
For more information on the Australian Government’s financial support for farmers visit www.daff.gov.au/agriculture-food/drought/assistance/financial-support-for-farmers.
Assistance Commended in Worsening Drought
AGFORCE Queensland has commended the Queensland and Federal Government's on their response to worsening drought conditions and animal welfare concerns through the announcement of a funding boost for the state’s water infrastructure.
Under the new water infrastructure funding agreement actioned on Wednesday, primary producers will be eligible for an additional 25 per cent rebate for water-related infrastructure on top of what they can access under the Queensland Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate.
AgForce General President, Ian Burnett, said the funding would be welcomed by drought stricken primary producers, across approximately 70 per cent of Queensland, who were under pressure to secure reliable water sources for stock.
“In times of severe drought such as this providing a reliable supply of fresh water for livestock is critical to ensuring animal welfare,” Mr Burnett said.
“Establishing new water infrastructure can be both expensive and labour intensive, so at a time when there is already enormous financial stress on our primary producers this additional assistance is warmly welcomed.
“We also congratulate both the State and Federal Governments on recognising the severity of this current drought and collaboratively responding to the needs of both our farmers and the livestock they care for.”
However, Mr Burnett also reiterated the importance of further government response given the unique and severe nature of this weather event. Some of the measures identified as suitable for such assistance were this week outlined by both the National Farmers’ Federation and AgForce Queensland.
“The severity of this drought has now pushed it to what should surely be considered a natural disaster,” Mr Burnett said.
“We urge Minister Joyce and Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to recognise the long-term viability of the agriculture industry, and the critical contribution it makes to the economy, and to provide urgent in-event support.
“There is no doubt, in the long-term, we need a significant restructure of drought support, but for now we must also be mindful of the wellbeing of the vulnerable primary producers facing this insidious weather event.”
Sources: Federal minister for agriculture, Queensland minister for Agriculture, Agforce Queensland