Seek­ing drought sup­port

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY ROBERT MUIR

Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil will ap­ply to be in­cluded in the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment drought sup­ports pro­gram and seek a Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Dec­la­ra­tion.

Mayor Pat Bourke raised the sub­ject at coun­cil’s monthly meet­ing on Septem­ber 18. His May­oral Minute mo­tion for coun­cil staff to pre­pare an ap­pli­ca­tion and sup­port neigh­bour­ing coun­cils, as well as seek­ing re­gional RAMJO sup­port, was unan­i­mously agreed to by fel­low coun­cil­lors.

Mayor Bourke told coun­cil­lors Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil and sur­round­ing coun­cils are not on the list of 35 NSW and Queens­land coun­cils to be el­i­gi­ble for up to $1 mil­lion each in drought sup­port fund­ing to sup­port their com­mu­ni­ties.

Af­ter mak­ing con­tact with lo­cal Fed­eral Mem­ber for Far­rer’s of­fice, he said coun­cil is en­cour­aged to seek fund­ing as­sis­tance.

“With the en­tire state drought-de­clared, and no signs of im­prove­ment over sum­mer, the north and north-west ar­eas par­tic­u­larly of the coun­cil area have mostly zero chance of har­vest this year, with many farmers hav­ing lit­tle or no stock to at­tempt to off­set this loss,” Mayor Bourke said.

“Those who do have some stock are ob­vi­ously faced with the mas­sive fod­der gap also.”

Cr Bron­wyn Thomas said the sub­ject was “such an im­por­tant is­sue” be­cause of the rain­fall de­fi­ciency and black­frost.

“I rec­om­mended we put for­ward a Dis­cus­sion Pa­per to our re­gional joint or­ga­ni­za­tion with some re­ally strong strate­gies,” she said.

Cr Thomas said she would like to be in­volved in the Dis­cus­sion Pa­per’s prepa­ra­tion which was well re­ceived by fel­low coun­cil­lors.

Cr Fred Long­mire, who sup­ported Cr Thomas’s com­ments, rec­om­mended coun­cil se­ri­ously con­sider what can be done for the farm­land ratepay­ers in coun­cil’s 2019/20 bud­get, bear­ing in mind to­day’s drought sit­u­a­tion and the sig­nif­i­cant rise in farm­land rates last year.

The mayor asked: “Should we seek to have a Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Dec­la­ra­tion?” “Yes,” re­sponded Long­mire. “And in the next rate re­view let’s look at what ben­e­fit can be done for farmers with our rate re­view.”

The drought ef­fect on farms in the north of Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil has also been seen by Cr Paul Miegel. He said he has seen the drought ef­fect in other ar­eas of Aus­tralia too which have cap­tured so much me­dia at­ten­tion and for which fundrais­ing has oc­curred.

“I’ve seen their sig­nif­i­cant hard­ship. It’s a real dif­fi­culty our agri­cul­ture in­dus­try is fac­ing,” he said. “Aus­tralia is do­ing it tough. Now we are re­ally do­ing it tough here.”

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