Drought help for farmers
Wangaratta included in new, expanded package from State Government
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.