26 February 2014
FEDERAL Member for New England and Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce said farming families and businesses will be able to access greater government assistance sooner as part of a $320 million comprehensive drought support package.
Announcing the package this morning with the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, Mr Joyce said the Federal Government would bring forward more generous income support arrangements for farmers and their families, extend concessional loans to eligible drought affected farm businesses, provide funds for water infrastructure and pest eradication as well as funds for counselling support services for farmers.
“This new package will assist impacted farm businesses and farm families from Tamworth to Tenterfield, from Yetman to Walcha who have contacted my office in recent weeks to deal with immediate financial pressures and improve their capacity to recover when the rain finally comes,” Mr Joyce said.
“I’ve been travelling extensively throughout the electorate in recent weeks talking to New England constituents about what they need to keep them going until it rains again.
“Farming is a very significant part of our economy and will play a critical role in our economic future.
“We are introducing measures to offer financial, social and mental health support,” he said
“This is a government determined to stand by the people of Australia in good times and bad.”
Mr Joyce said farm businesses and farm families across the electorate and the nation were suffering financially and emotionally as a result of the prolonged drought.
The package includes:
- More generous criteria for accessing income support will be made available to farmers from 3 March 2014 instead of 1 July 2014.
- Drought Concessional Loans totalling $280 million will be allocated to give eligible farm businesses the resources to recover from the effects of drought.
- To assist drought affected farms to access water, $12 million will be added to existing emergency water infrastructure schemes, including supplementing those in NSW and Queensland.
- $10 million in assistance will be available for pest management in drought affected areas.
- $10.7 million will help increase access to social and mental health services in communities affected by this drought.