Drought relief plea
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.’’