Drought help for farm­ers

Wan­garatta in­cluded in new, ex­panded pack­age from State Gov­ern­ment

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News -

WAN­GARATTA dis­trict farm­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the pres­sures of drought con­di­tions will be able to ac­cess fi­nan­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port with a range of mea­sures now in place.

It’s cour­tesy of a $25 mil­lion Drought Pre­pared­ness and Sup­port Pack­age an­nounced by the State Gov­ern­ment this week.

Coun­cil ar­eas to get sup­port in North­ern Vic­to­ria are Swan Hill, Gan­nawarra, Lod­don, Cam­paspe, Greater Bendigo, Greater Shep­par­ton, Moira, Strath­bo­gie, Be­nalla, Wan­garatta, Wodonga, In­digo, Alpine, and Towong.

Sup­port will in­clude more than $2 mil­lion for men­tal health and well­be­ing ser­vices, with $180,000 of this fund­ing ded­i­cated to the Na­tional Cen­tre for Farmer Health to de­liver health checks to farm­ers.

North­ern Vic­to­rian farm­ers will also now be able to ap­ply to the Drought In­fra­struc­ture Grant Pro­gram along with farm­ers in Cen­tral and East Gipp­s­land with an $11.8 mil­lion boost to the pro­gram.

The gov­ern­ment’s drought as­sis­tance pack­age also in­cludes $1 mil­lion to make sure wild pest and an­i­mal con­trol pro­grams are pro­cessed faster and bet­ter co­or­di­nated re­gion­ally.

It says an ad­di­tional $1 mil­lion will pro­vide ex­pert tech­ni­cal and busi­ness sup­port to help farm­ers make good, early de­ci­sions around farm man­age­ment, in­clud­ing an­i­mal health, feed bud­get­ing and land man­age­ment.

How­ever, Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion (VFF) Wan­garatta branch pres­i­dent Natasha Lob­ban said “the drought is al­ready upon us” and sup­port should have taken place ear­lier.

“There is a stock wa­ter con­cern with dams dry due to zero run off dur­ing win­ter and more needs to be done with wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port farm­ers,” Mrs Lob­ban said.

“There needs to be more pro­vi­sion around how farm­ers are go­ing to wa­ter their stock this sum­mer.

“There is lim­ited feed and buy­ing hay is very ex­pen­sive and we’ve got the whole sum­mer ahead of us.”

VFF state pres­i­dent David Jochinke noted that coun­cil rates re­lief was miss­ing from the gov­ern­ment’s pack­age.

Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Jaala Pul­ford said the govern- ment’s fo­cus is on pro­vid­ing im­me­di­ate sup­port and help­ing farm­ing fam­i­lies pre­pare for drought ahead,.

“Coun­cil rates aren’t due for a num­ber of months, but the gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion, en­gage with stake­hold­ers and de­ter­mine what fur­ther sup­port may be an op­tion,” she said.

For more in­for­ma­tion about drought con­di­tions and as­sis­tance go to www.agri­cul­ture.vic.gov.au/dry­sea­sons.

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