News

Funding expanded for drought-affected farmers

By Country News

Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has announced the expansion of drought support.

Ms Symes made the announcement at a Rural Press Club of Victoria webinar on April 30.

The maximum amount available for the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program will increase from $5000 to $10 000 for business planning activities and drought infrastructure investments.

The expansion will ensure farmers have more access to the technology and expertise they need to prepare for future seasons.

Ms Symes said the changes to funding programs acknowledged the ongoing challenges farmers were facing, including drought, bushfires and coronavirus.

“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,” Ms Symes said.

“We recognise that supporting farmers through informed decision-making is more important than ever.

“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.”

The program will allow applications for new equipment such as mobile phone booster technologies to improve access to the internet, online drought services, and items such as soil moisture probes.

Rural assistance commissioner Peter Tuohey said farmers should not self-assess their eligibility.

“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,” he said.

Farmers in drought-affected areas also impacted by 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 access to grants of up to $10 000.

Farmers interested in applying are encouraged to contact the Victorian Farmers Federation.

The grant programs are part of the Victorian Government’s $31 million support package announced in October, providing support for areas hit hardest by dry conditions.

For more information on drought and dry seasonal conditions support, visit: agriculture.vic.gov.au/dryseasons or phone 136 186.