Farmers in East and Central Gippsland facing drought and dry conditions will get extra support, with the Andrews Labor Government announcing new dedicated funding to help farming families and communities doing it tough.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes joined Member for Eastern Victoria Jane Garrett today to announce more than $31 million in targeted support for areas of Gippsland and elsewhere in Victoria hit hardest by dry conditions.
The Labor Government will establish a $15 million Farmers’ Drought Fund to help farming businesses and families that need it most, alleviating some of the immediate burden while also ensuring farmers have the long-term support they need for the coming months and years.
The fund will provide household financial relief for families in Central and East Gippsland – as well as the Millewa and Goulburn Murray Irrigation District – who have been hit hard by drought, with $3 million to deliver hardship payments of up to $3,000 per family, taking immediate pressure off household costs.
Gippsland farmers have taken up almost 2,400 infrastructure and pasture recovery grants and Farm Business Assistance payments under the Labor Government’s current drought program. The Farmers’ Drought Fund continues that work, with $12 million in grants to invest in on-farm drought preparedness.
The package also includes $5.2 million in Local Government Service Support Payments, which will be provided to East Gippsland, Wellington and Mildura Shires to help councils meet the immediate needs of their communities.
The successful Catchment Management Authority Drought Employment Program will be extended, with $4.6 million giving more farmers and their employees in Wellington and East Gippsland access to off-farm employment and training – as well as expanding the program to the Millewa and Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.
The package offers support for a Gippsland specific demonstration site with a focus on farming in a changing climate, to build resilience and readiness for the future.
The package will also provide $2.3 million in farm business management and planning support, $2 million for mental health services and $1.25 million for local projects and events that build community resilience – which, in Gippsland, includes support for the community’s Looking Ahead approach to transition, recovery and adaption.
The package announced today complements drought funding recently announced by the Federal Government. The Victorian Government welcomes this funding, particularly the changes to the Farm Household Allowance that make it easier for Victorian farmers to access. The Labor Government will continue to work with the Commonwealth, councils and communities to ensure our farmers are getting the support they need.
As noted by Premier Daniel Andrews
“This won’t make it rain, but it will help make life a little bit easier for Gippsland farming families doing it tough.”
As noted by Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes
“We’ve listened to drought-impacted farmers in Gippsland, and this package reflects what they’ve told us – delivering both immediate relief while also providing long-term investments to prepare for the future.”
As noted by Member for Eastern Victoria Jane Garrett
“Not only will this package provide immediate financial relief and infrastructure for farmers in Gippsland, but we’re backing them for the long-term with skills, training and support to get them through future dry conditions.”