Drought re­lief plea

Benalla Ensign - - VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION 2018 -

Farmers around Benalla and across North East Vic­to­ria are brac­ing them­selves for an­other dire season after low mois­ture con­tent and frosts dra­mat­i­cally re­duced crop yields.

State Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan is urg­ing the Vic­to­rian Government to step up and pro­vide im­me­di­ate re­lief for lo­cal farmers and al­lo­cate fund­ing for the on­go­ing em­ploy­ment of ru­ral outreach work­ers.

Ms Ryan said farmers across the region were star­ing down the bar­rel of sig­nif­i­cant losses be­cause of frost, which has caused wide­spread crop dam­age.

‘‘Au­tumn, win­ter and spring have been dis­as­trous for farmers across our region with the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy find­ing Septem­ber to be Aus­tralia’s dri­est on record,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘This year’s cli­matic con­di­tions have caused a sig­nif­i­cant profit loss, leav­ing many farmers with­out the funds to plant next year.

‘‘I have met with farmers who are cut­ting what would have been valu­able crops early for hay to en­sure they make some profit from this season’s yield.’’

This week the Vic­to­rian Government an­nounced $2 mil­lion to pro­vide men­tal health and well­be­ing ser­vices for strug­gling farmers.

How­ever, Ms Ryan said Men­tal Health Min­is­ter Martin Fo­ley had re­fused re­peated re­quests to pro­vide on­go­ing fund­ing for lo­cal ru­ral outreach worker Ivan Lis­ter.

‘‘I have con­tin­ued to put the pres­sure on the government to pro­vide on­go­ing sup­port for Ivan Lis­ter — a lo­cal ru­ral outreach worker cred­ited with sav­ing the lives of lo­cal farmers dur­ing the drought,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘With­out im­me­di­ate government sup­port, the com­mu­nity has ral­lied to­gether to help raise funds, so Ivan can con­tinue his work and sup­port lo­cal farmers.

‘‘The min­is­ter’s re­fusal to fund Ivan’s po­si­tions casts doubt on the An­drews Government’s com­mit­ment to de­liv­er­ing men­tal health ser­vices for our strug­gling farmers. The government should be lis­ten­ing to the needs of our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.’’

Steph Ryan

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