Farmers Federation puts case for drought support changes

Brent Finlay.
Brent Finlay. Contributed

AS DROUGHT tightens its grip across Queensland, farm organisations are doing all they can to get additional assistance from the Federal Government.

On Tuesday, representatives of the National Farmers Federation converged on Parliament House in Canberra to try to convince the new Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, to make urgent changes to the former government's farm finance scheme.

NFF vice president and chair of the drought working group, Brent Finlay, said before the meeting, farmers who were in drought or approaching drought conditions did not know what would be available to them, or even if they would be eligible to access support, because so little detail was available about the existing scheme.

"And perhaps even more critically, the reform does not provide any certainty on in-drought business support, but rather a series of principles on which support could be provided if needed," he said.

He said after the meeting Mr Joyce gave them a good hearing and was coming to grips with the grim circumstances many farmers faced, but got no firm commitments.

"It was obviously a high priority for the minister," he said.

"And we have already started on a formal letter to him reinforcing what came from the meeting.

"What we are seeking is support for agriculture.

"Farmers don't want hand-outs, but they do need some support."

Mr Finlay said Mr Joyce indicated he would try to develop some more comprehensive framework around the farm finance package, but did not give details on when that might be done.

On Monday, Queensland Agriculture Minister John McVeigh announced increased levels of state support for drought-hit farmers, allowing those eligible for the Drought Recovery Assistance Scheme (DRAS) to access to an extra $10,000 in assistance in the first year to $30,000.

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Topics:  brent finlay drought drought assistance exceptional circumstances nff

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