Farmers say aid has taken far too long
DISASTER-hit Queensland farmers say a new Federal G o v e r n m e n t a s s i s t a n c e package is too little too late.
Concessional loans of up to $ 650,000, with a grant component of up to $ 50,000, were made available yesterday to eligible businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations in 33 government areas affected by recent floods.
The loans will be offered over a 10-year period, with the first two years interest and repayment free.
Previously, the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements Category D assist ance was available only in local government areas affected by Cyclone Yasi i ncl udi ng Charter s Towers, Tablelands, Hinchinbrook, Cassowary Coast, Townsville and Flinders.
AgForce president Brent Finlay said the payments were extended to some areas that were flooded nearly two months ago, and the Federal Government needed to explain why it hadn’t been forthcoming earlier.
‘‘ Farmers and small businesses affected by Cyclone Yasi were offered the payments two weeks after the disaster,’’ he said.
‘‘ Did the government run out of money for flooded farmers, or were we just not a priority?’’