Farmers in the in the north-west Millewa region facing drought and dry conditions will get the extra support they need, 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 today announced more than $31 million in support for areas hit hardest by dry conditions – particularly targeted at the Millewa, as well as East and Central Gippsland and the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID).
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 the Millewa and other areas hit hard by drought – with $3 million to deliver hardship payments of up to $3,000 per family, taking pressure off household costs.
Approximately half of farmers in the Millewa took up the current drought infrastructure grant program to reduce their bills, save energy and store water – the Farmers’ Drought Fund continues that work, with $12 million in grants to ensure the long-term future of farming with drought infrastructure and business planning.
The package also includes $5.2 million in Local Government Service Support Payments, which will be provided to Mildura shire as well as in Gippsland to help councils meet the immediate needs of their communities.
The Catchment Management Authority Drought Employment Program will be rolled out in the Millewa after successfully running in Gippsland, giving farmers and their employees off-farm employment and training.
The Labor Government has listened to what local farmers need and will also work with the Victorian Farmers Federation to provide vouchers to farms across the region to maintain essential machinery and equipment.
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 to help keep communities strong.
The package announced today complements drought funding recently announced by the Federal Government. The Victorian Labor 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 alongside the Commonwealth, councils and communities to ensure our farmers are getting the support they need.
As noted by Premier Daniel Andrews
“The past two seasons have been incredibly tough for farmers in the Millewa. This won’t make it rain, but it will help make life just a little bit easier for farming families doing it tough.”
As noted by Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes
“We’ve listened to drought-impacted farmers, and this package reflects what they need for both immediate relief from drought and preparedness against a changing climate.”
As noted by Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp
“Not only will this package provide immediate financial relief and equipment upgrades for farmers in the Millewa, but we’re backing them for the long-term with skills, training and support to get through future dry conditions.”