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Govt Offers Assistance to Farmers in Floods

by 5m Editor
13 January 2011, at 11:24am

AUSTRALIA - The Australian government has issued a package of measures to assist farmers who have lost crops and stock during the recent floods.

However, the government is upbeat over the prospects for the agriculture industry despite the current damage that is being suffered.

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Joe Ludwig, told a meeting of state and territory agricultural ministers and the National Farmers’ Federation this week that he remained optimistic about the prospects for the summer crop.

According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), the outlook for the summer cropping season was generally favourable with a large area to be planted, but this was dependent on drier conditions.

“While water levels have been falling in some flood affected areas of Queensland, floodwaters are moving south affecting more regional communities,” Minister Ludwig said.

“For these communities, there is an enormous clean up task ahead to re–establish homes and businesses that have been severely damaged.

“Today, I met with agriculture ministers from around the country and the President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Jock Laurie, to discuss flooding issues and the rebuilding process.

“It will be some time before we know the full impact of the floods to the rural sector.

“We know that some farmers have lost crops and stock and that many communities are doing it tough.

“In other parts of the country, producers not directly affected by the flooding will generally benefit from improved soil moisture and water availability.”

The Federal Government's range of assistance measures to support farmers and primary producers in need, include:

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment

$1,000 per eligible adult, $400 per eligible child (available across all 49 Local Government Areas declared natural disaster zones). This payment is designed to assist people who were forced to leave their homes, have lost their homes or whose homes have sustained major damage as a result of the floods.

Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements

Personal Hardship and Distress Assistance (available across 11 LGAs including Central Highlands, Southern Downs, Western Downs, Lockyer Valley, Banana, Barcaldine, North Burnett, Mackay, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Toowoomba).

Emergency Assistance Grants

A grant of $170 per person, up to a maximum of $780 for a family of five or more is available. This grant is available to people experiencing hardship due to the disaster who require assistance to meet their basic needs.

Essential Household Contents Grants

Assistance of up to $1,660 for individuals and $4,980 for families.

Repairs to Dwelling Grants

Assistance of up to $10,250 for individuals and $13,800 for families can be provided.

Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy

Fortnightly payment of up to the maximum rate of existing Newstart Allowance for a period of 13 weeks. The subsidy will be available to those who have experienced a loss of income as a direct result of the flooding and are not currently receiving, or eligible for, any other income support payment.

Available assistance for businesses and primary producers includes:

Grants of up to $25,000 for small businesses and primary producers for clean up and recovery

Available now across 15 LGAs and one partial LGA: Banana, Barcaldine, Bundaberg, Somerset, Central Highlands, Cherbourg, Lockyer Valley, North Burnett, Rockhampton, Scenic Rim, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Toowoomba, Western Downs and Woorabinda and the defined portion of Isaac.

Concessional interest rate loans of up to $250,000 for small business operators and primary producers, as well as freight subsidies of up to $5,000

Available across 23 LGAs: Balonne, Banana, Barcaldine, Blackall—Tambo, Bundaberg, Central Highlands, Cherbourg, Gladstone, Goondiwindi, Isaac, Lockyer Valley, Longreach, Maranoa, Murweh, North Burnett, Rockhampton, Scenic Rim, Somerset, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Toowoomba, Woorabinda and Western Downs.

Queensland primary producers and businesses who have been impacted by the floods can check eligibility and lodge a claim for assistance by calling the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority on 1800 623 946.

A copy of the Australian climate and agricultural monthly update can be found on the ABARES web site [click here].

Meanwhile, Australian Pork has also issued special advice and flood warnings to producers with information and contacts for producers seeking assistance and flood relief. Information can be found on its web site [click here].