Cash help for farmers
More help could be on the way for desperate farmers after the Federal Government announced drought-affected households would be given cash payments of up to $12 000.
Large swathes of eastern Australia are in one of the worst droughts of the past 100 years, prompting the government to announce a $190 million relief package.
Producers eligible for the Farm Household Allowance will be given relief of up to $12 000 for couples and $7200 for singles.
It will be split into payments in September and another in March.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull signalled there would be more support to come, with no sign of rain breaking the devastating dry spell.
He said on Monday the latest cash, and money raised through appeals, would support whole communities.
‘‘It is going to help families in need and it helps the farmers but it also goes into the local communities, into the shops and the businesses in the town,’’ he said.
About 19 000 farmers who could be eligible for the allowance are yet to sign up.
Mr Turnbull urged farmers to use the Federal Government’s Rural Financial Counselling Service to check whether they could access the payment.
The Federal Government has now spent $576 million on relief for this drought.
Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the package was late, but agreed to support it.
He wants a meaningful response to climate change.
‘‘Farmers are doing their best to adapt to a changing climate, but government has a role to play too and it has been completely missing in action,’’ he said on Sunday.
Some hotels are joining the ‘Parma for a Farmer’ fundraising program, which donates $1 for every parmigiana meal sold. They include Shepparton’s Victoria Hotel, the Peppermill Inn at Kialla, Rochester’s Shamrock Hotel, The Deck in Shepparton, Echuca’s Shamrock Hotel and 1895 the Royal, in Echuca. ■ Farmers helping farmers, see our report on page 8.