THE National Farmers Federation is supporting the Federal Government’s proposal to deliver an economic stimulus package to boost employment in drought-affected communities.
This week, the NFF—along with representatives from NSW Farmers and AgForce QLD—met with Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce to discuss the urgent need to better target current assistance measures and expand support to local communities.
NFF president Brent Finlay said the Federation had tabled 21 recommendations, aimed at remedying the current drought support package.
“Our latest talks with the Government followed a letter written to the Prime Minister two weeks ago outlining concerns that farmers and communities are being denied assistance because of unforgiving eligibility criteria and red tape,” Mr Finlay said.
“The recommendations we’ve made reflect concerns we raised at the outset of the scheme and again late last year. These can no longer be ignored.
“Many farmers are facing their fourth season without income, which is more than anyone can reasonably expect a business to withstand.”
This was having a major impact on local businesses and on workers, who may have little choice but to leave town to support themselves, Mr Finlay said.
“The NFF welcomes yesterday’s proposal to expand drought assistance beyond the farm-gate to local governments and small businesses doing it tough in affected areas.
“We urge the government to carefully consider and consult on the design of any new measures, so that money allocated to support local jobs goes where it is needed, and is not tied up in bureaucracy.”
Mr Finlay said NFF looked forward to working with the Federal Government towards resolving the issues.