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    Member for Mallee Anne Webster.

AgLife: Relief for farmers

Drought-hit Mallee communities and farmers will receive a boost from Federal Government’s latest drought relief package.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the $709-million investment into drought affected communities.

Member for Mallee Anne Webster said the package would support Mallee farmers and communities through access to loans of up to $2 million.

She said loans would have zero interest on repayments for the first two years, after which interest-only payments would be at a ‘minimal rate’.

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“This will see money flow right through the local economy,” she said.

“These loans can now be used for fodder, stock transport, agistment, farm improvements, employees’ wages and to refinance current debt.”

Dr Webster said the government included fodder and agistment in the loans in response to Millewa farmers in the state’s north-west who made requests to Minister for Drought David Littleproud.

“The addition of fodder and agistment means that farmers won’t have to sell all of their stock,” she said.

“It will help keep breeding herds on farm or give farmers the choice to agist herds further south, promoting a quicker recovery once this drought breaks.

“These loans will potentially save farmers who refinance, thousands of dollars and help them get back on their feet sooner.”

Dr Webster said small Mallee businesses dependant on agriculture would also have access to interest-free loans of up to $500,000. She said the loans would have zero interest for two years, followed by interest for years three to five.

“Shearing contractors, harvesters and livestock transport and mechanical service providers have seen their turnover hit, and in many cases struggle to survive,” she said.

“This will protect jobs in the Mallee and make sure we can bounce back once the drought breaks.”

She said another ‘big win’ for regional producers was an available 100 gigalitres of water from South Australia to help grow feed for farm stock in Victoria and other locations in the Murray-Darling Basin.

She said it could allow for production of about 120,000 tonnes of fodder that could help Mallee farmers.

“Nationally, another $378 million will also go into drought-affected community projects and an extra $138.9 million into our Roads to Recovery initiative,” she said.

“There is also $10 million allocated to schools to make concessional fees available to families facing drought, allowing children to stay in school and removing this additional financial stress. 

“A further $5-million childcare fund will assist childcare centres in drought affected communities, to keep childcare available to those who are doing it tough.

“Communities across Australia have been working hard through this drought, and this package provides a bit more hope and practical help for everyone to get through it. It helps to protect our jobs and economy so that when the drought breaks, we will bounce back faster.”

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!