The Victorian Farmers Federation is calling on the Victorian Government to expand drought relief arrangements to help farmers across the state facing drought conditions.
The call comes as conditions become more severe in Gippsland, the Mallee, Wimmera and northern parts of the state, with the continued onset of dry spring conditions.
Late season frost events and high fodder and water prices have continued to create challenges, with many farmers now taking the tough decision whether to cut their crops for hay or simply not harvest at all.
Victorian Farmers Federation President David Jochinke said it was time for the Victorian Government to broaden and build on the range of drought relief measures it announced in September.
“In particular we want to see the target area for on-farm Drought Infrastructure Grants expanded beyond east and central Gippsland, to include other regions facing drought conditions, including the northern region, Mallee and Wimmera regions,” said Mr Jochinke.
“We are also calling on the State Government to ensure funding offered for these grants is adequate to allow farmers to invest in meaningful projects to provide relief from drought.
“We also want the State Government to listen to our earlier calls to help with relief from fixed costs, such as the rapidly growing council rates burden. A farmer’s annual income continues to evaporate during drought, yet they still face these extremely high fixed costs such as council rates.
“We acknowledge the Victorian Government’s commitment last month for relief and preparedness measures including funding for on-farm Drought Infrastructure Grants and mental health, community resilience and counselling programs.
“We have been told all along that the state is taking a staged approach in its response to the drought around the state. Farmers on the ground are telling us we are now beyond that next stage.
“It is all well and good to promote drought preparedness as those conditions approach, but with drought having well and truly arrived, we need further action.
“Other relief initiatives which have been welcomed by farmers in the past have included grants for kindergarten and school excursions, as well as employment schemes for apprentices.
“It is time for the State Government to move to the next stage and broaden drought relief measures to help farmers.”
David Jochinke, Victorian Farmers Federation President, 0427 834 524
Andrew MacDonald, Stakeholder Media & Communications Advisor, 0418 282 875