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Exit grants oversubscribed: farmers left in the lurch

18 August 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today raised its concerns with the Federal Government that the Exceptional Circumstances exit grants for farmers have been cut off after being fully subscribed.

NFF President Jock Laurie says the NFF has today written to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Treasurer, calling on them to ensure that farmers who had committed to selling their properties would receive the funding.

“Only two months into the financial year, all $9.6 million under the Exceptional Circumstances exit grant program have been allocated,” Mr Laurie said.

“Selling a family farm is not a decision taken lightly. Exit grants are designed to offer one-time assistance to farmers in Exceptional Circumstance declared regions who have really struggled to survive during prolonged drought. They are a light at the end of the tunnel for those making the difficult decision to exit the industry.

“But for those farmers who have now sold their farms on the understanding they are eligible for exit grants, there is a feeling of false hope and a complete rethink of their plans as they find that the money is no longer available,” Mr Laurie said.

“What we are seeking is clarity from the Minister and the Treasurer that those farmers who have sold their properties on the understanding that the exit grant would be available actually receive the money.

“We’re talking about farmers who have done it exceptionally tough during a period of prolonged drought, and have now made the tough and often traumatic decision to sell the family farm and move away from the industry.

“The NFF is very concerned that the sudden closure of the exit grant program has left these farmers exposed both financially and emotionally, and we’re calling on the Government to provide the funding to farmers who have sold their properties on the basis of this program,” Mr Laurie said.

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