Dan’s van rolls into town, better late than never
VICTORIAN premier Daniel Andrews rolled into Lockington on Wednesday for the first time since he entered office two years ago.
The brief, but nonetheless momentous, occasion saw Mr Andrews visit the Mitchell family’s dairy farm, where he announced a $1.8m grants program to help producers affected by the milk price downturn.
The grants of up to $5000 are available to farm businesses to invest in fixed infrastructure to improve their farm – although to be eligible, farmers must match the grant dollar-for-dollar.
‘‘We know with the recent price changes, a lot of dairy families and communities more broadly are doing it tough,’’ Mr Andrews said.
‘‘These direct grants are all about practical assistance, standing with dairy communities in very tough times.
‘‘We know it’s tough, but there’s every cause to be optimistic.’’
The Premier used the opportunity to describe the recent milk price cuts by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra as ‘‘not right’’ and ‘‘completely unacceptable’’.
‘‘But we can’t dwell on that. What we need to do is be there to support our dairy industries,’’ he said.
The grants program was welcomed by the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria, but president Adam Jenkins said more needed to be done to help businesses.
‘‘We appreciate the efforts of the State Government in offering direct support to dairy farmers and their communities when it’s most needed,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s still a lot of work needed to restore confidence in the dairy industry and our communities and the grants might not be a lot of money in the long-term, but this is a welcome step in the right direction.’’
But Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh was not so impressed with the announcement, claiming it was simply ‘‘scraps off the table’’.
‘‘Daniel Andrews has announced grants he said would extend assistance to our dairy farmers but there are 4200 dairy farms in Victoria and his program will only extend to 360 applicants,’’ he said.
‘‘The fixed infrastructure grants are also only offered on condition of a matching dollar-for-dollar contribution from farmers which is going to be tough for a lot of businesses.
‘‘Farmers with cash flow can try their luck but farmers in the red who don’t have funds to match will miss out.’’
Dairy farmer Noel Mitchell with premier Daniel Andrews in Lockington on Wednesday.