VICTORIA’S drought-affected farmers have been offered expanded government grant support to give greater access to the technology and expertise needed to prepare for future seasons.
Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes yesterday announced the changes to funding programs to acknowledge the ongoing challenges farmers are facing dealing with drought, bushfires and coronavirus.
The maximum amount available for the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program will increase from $5000 to $10,000. This means farmers can use up to $5000 for farm business planning activities and $5,000 for drought infrastructure investments.
The program now also allows applications for new equipment such as mobile phone booster technologies to improve access to the internet and online drought services, and items such as soil moisture probes.
Farmers in drought-affected areas also impacted by the bushfires will be able to reapply for the grant where their previously-funded investment was destroyed or damaged.
The Farm Machinery Grant Program has also been extended to allow more farmers in the Millewa region to access these grants of up to $10,000. Farmers interested in applying are encouraged to contact the Victorian Farmers Federation.
Not all farmers are getting assistance they need
While recent rainfall across much of the state has been a promising sign, many farmers still face a long road to recovery from years of dry conditions. The expanded funding grants will provide targeted help to where it is most needed.
During a Rural Press Club of Victoria webinar yesterday, the minister said the Victorian Government wanted to ensure that all affected farmers received the assistance they needed.
“I know, we’re hearing, we’re not reaching everyone that needs help and we’re wanting to ensure that farmers are getting the exact assistance they need,” she said.
“We know there is continued financial pressure on farmers already dealing with drought and bushfire impact – we want to make sure they have access to all the services on offer from the Government.
“We recognise that supporting farmers through informed decision-making is more important than ever,” she said.
“Our support doesn’t just help farmers now, but sets farming communities up to adapt to more frequent and severe dry conditions in years to come.”
Rural Assistance Commissioner Peter Tuohey said it was important that farmers did not self-assess.
“You don’t want to miss out on something you are eligible for.
“I encourage farmers who have been managing through the drought to contact Rural Finance or the Rural Financial Counselling Service to get advice on the support available to them.”
The grant programs are part of the Victorian Government’s $31 million support package announced in October, providing targeted support for areas hit hardest by dry conditions.
For more information on drought and dry seasonal conditions support and services visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/dryseasons or call 136 186.