VICTORIAN Farmers Federation president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke is calling on the state government to deliver more long-term relief for drought affected farmers.
“Farmers are highly resilient, adaptable and innovative. Nevertheless, there are circumstances of prolonged dry and drought where self-reliance and sheer determination are not enough on their own,” he said.
“There is no question that major action is required from our political decision makers to ensure we are better placed heading in to the future.”
His comments come after the state government announced a $5 million package to provide additional support for farmers affected by drought conditions.
The funding package includes $1.4 million for Drought Infrastructure Grants to help farmers cover costs of establishing areas to contain stock.
A further $400,000 has been allocated for the Look Over The Farm Gate mental health program, while $500,000 will be allocated to a Community Resilience Program for councils to provide social events and community infrastructure.
The package also includes $400,000 to increase the Rural Financial Counselling Service.
Mr Jochinke said the VFF welcomed the package, but urged that more needed to be done to deliver for agriculture into the future.
“The VFF notes the state government has listened and responded to some, but not all of these calls with its package announced today,” he said
“These relief measures are welcome but there is still a need from all sides of politics to implement a long-term vision and strategy for agriculture.
“We are after more than short-term measures. We need policy and infrastructure solutions which see us through the phases of preparation, being in drought and recovery.
“In the lead up to the 2018 state election we need a genuine commitment from our political leaders to a vision which delivers for agriculture and does not ignore the long-term issues which Victoria’s farmers have been raising for years.”
He said farmers all across the state were facing challenges.
“Dry conditions, late season frost events and high fodder and water prices going into spring are all currently creating challenges in parts of the state,” he said.
“Farmers have highlighted the need for measures including relief from fixed costs such as their council rates, as well as improved heavy vehicle regulation to facilitate movement of hay and fodder, investment in stock containment areas and appropriate mental health and counselling services.”
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the state government were focused on delivery solutions for drought-affected farmers.
“We know some farmers are doing it tough and conditions are dry – that’s why we’re taking action and investing in these initiatives to give these communities the support that they need,” she said.