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Call for immediate drought relief package

13 February 2014

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today released detail on its proposed Drought Relief Package—a suite of new and updated existing measures to help address the severe situation of drought faced by many farmers, their families and communities.

NFF President, Brent Finlay, says the NFF wants to see farm businesses given a fair shot at getting back on their feet and returning to the viable and productive businesses they are.

“As we have said before, we aren't asking for handouts—we’re asking for a logical step forward, to help viable Australian businesses during a very tough time—enabling them to continue to produce the high-quality food and fibre for this great nation and many overseas markets,” Mr Finlay said.

The NFF has developed a package that includes a range of recommendations to address the needs of farmers and communities amidst the current drought. These include labour wage assistance, realistic eligibility criteria for existing programs, and the improvement of social services.

“The NFF is strongly committed to advocating for long term drought policy solutions that drive preparedness for farm businesses in the future. However, when there’s not a drought on, it’s difficult for preparedness to remain a top priority for Government, as we have seen in recent years,” Mr Finlay said.

“Farmers across the country need support now and outdated eligibility criteria is preventing access for many who deserve it,” Mr Finlay said.

Australian agriculture makes a significant contribution to export earnings of around $38 billion per annum. The industry has a strong record of productivity growth, innovation and labour efficiency, is exposed to international market forces and has the lowest level of government support in the world.

At the same time, farm businesses and their communities are more exposed than any other sector to the environment. Agricultural activities, because they generally have a larger environmental component, are different to production systems elsewhere in the economy and it is important that Governments recognise this.

“Every farmer across Australia takes conditions like drought and other natural disasters into consideration in the operation of their business—they prepare and do their best to manage farms in weather outside of their control. This drought is simply a situation that the best planning could not prepare them for, and there are devastating effects on entire communities,” Mr Finlay said.

“We need to ensure drought relief—as would be the case with any natural disaster—supports these farmers, their families and communities. The provision of this assistance is a matter of priority for the Government to action immediately,” Mr Finlay said.

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