Greens Creek farmers rejoice

REGION - More than two years since devastating flood waters swept through Greens Creek, farmers in the area have been thrown a monetary lifeline with the announcement of additional assistance for those affected by the severe weather event in December 2011.

As a result, fifteen farmers located north and north-east of Stawell will be eligible to apply for Category C Clean-up and Restoration Grants of up to $10,000.

One of the hopeful recipients, Brett Stewart has welcomed the announcement and said he was reasonably confident that he and other farmers in the area would be beneficiaries of the money.

"I certainly hope we will because we lost fencing and stock and all of those costs we had to absorb," he said.

The Stewarts have had to fork out close to $60,000 from their own pocket to repair fences, reestablish pastures and replace stock all lost when severe flooding left them inundated and isolated.

"It was in the lead up to Christmas and we were stranded. The water level at the dam rose in the space of a few hours and overflowed onto land taking logs and other debris with it."

The Stewarts had to buy new feed - hay and grain to provide for surviving livestock. They lost 200 stock including fat lambs and merino wethers.

"We were fortunate enough in that we had many people help with the recovery including the Northern Grampians Shire who were really good," he said.

The Greens Creek area had previously been refused access to Category C Clean-up and Restoration Grants due to an anomaly which meant financial assistance was awarded on the basis of eligible postcodes.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the State Government was pleased the Greens Creek area was finally eligible to receive the much needed assistance.

"A number of affected properties in the Greens Creek area fell outside of these eligible postcodes, which meant funding was withheld. I thank Western Victorian upper house MP David O'Brien for his tireless advocacy on this issue, which has now produced results for this community."

Mr O'Brien thanked the Federal Coalition Government for taking a compassionate approach to the issue.

"Despite numerous requests to the former Federal Labor Government to overturn this anomaly, it was not rectified and funding continued to be withheld," Mr O'Brien said.

"I am pleased the new Federal Coalition Government has rectified this anomaly, with clean-up and restoration funding now available to affected properties and businesses in the Greens Creek area."

Commonwealth Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said the Commonwealth Government was pleased to offer the grants to the Greens Creek farming community while Member for Mallee Andrew Broad also welcomed the funding.

"Extending these grants to the Greens Creek community shows how the new Commonwealth Government and Victorian Coalition Government are working closely together for the benefit of regional communities impacted by natural disaster," Mr Broad said.

Mr Keenan and Mr Ryan also announced that the deadline for claims for assistance from farmers hit by severe weather events in Victoria in December 2011, February-March 2012 and June 2012 had been extended to March 31 2014.

"The Commonwealth and Victorian governments are committed to assessing the continued impacts of past events on the communities affected, and to identifying further recovery assistance that may be required," Mr Ryan said.

Further information on the Category C Grants for primary producers, including eligibility criteria, was available on the Rural Finance Corporation of Victoria website at www.ruralfinance.com.au

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