The Andrews Labor Government is backing drought affected farmers, with the announcement today of a comprehensive $10 million Drought Support Fund.
Over the last three months, Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford and Minister for Environment, Water and Climate Change Lisa Neville conducted an extensive consultation process across our hardest hit areas.
Consultation included face-to-face community discussions with farming groups, submissions and letters, an online forum with more than 3,300 participants and 20,000 votes; and surveys which received 226 responses.
This follows on from November 2015, when the Labor Government announced a $27 million Drought Response Package. This specifically included a $10 million Drought Support Fund which was to be decided by and for the community.
Strong feedback indicated support for infrastructure improvements to maintain recreational waters and local sporting clubs, via this package almost $3 million will deliver Community Sport and Recreational Grants to meet this need.
Through the government's extensive consultation, measures that focus on community health and wellbeing and preparedness to deal with the impacts of long term drought were identified as priorities. There was also considerable support for measures that have broad community benefits, such as community precincts and investing in agricultural traineeships for school leavers.
The Andrews Labor Government is boosting:
- Drought Employment Program ($3.15 million) – employing farmers, farm workers and individuals affected by drought to undertake environmental projects.
- Drought Extension Program ($655,000) – accelerating delivery of additional farm information and advisory services to support farmers during drought and dry seasons.
- Stock Containment Areas Program ($620,500) – providing eligible farmers with grants of up to $2,000 and technical support to implement stock containment areas.
- Community Events ($120,000) – providing local councils with continued support to implement important community events that bring people together and promote drought impacted regions.
New initiatives will be established to build community and business resilience for the longer term:
- Dedicated Small Business services provided by the Rural Financial Counselling Service
- New Agriculture Traineeships for school leavers – supporting training for school leavers in drought affected communities.
- Farm Risk Management Grants program – providing eligible farm businesses with grants up to $10,000 to better manage risks and manage farm performance in changing climatic conditions.
- Recreational Water and Sport Grants – providing assistance for sport and recreational infrastructure projects.
- Funding for Foodbank - to support new refrigeration for the organisation to store food donations.
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford
"We stood with farmers doing it tough at the start of summer and we are standing by farmers and regional communities at the end of it.”
“The Andrews Labor Government’s Drought Support Fund is a direct response to the community. Farmers and regional communities called for support in helping small businesses and in proofing long term against drought. This package recognises and respects that.”
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Environment, Water and Climate Change Lisa Neville
"We've seen the success of the drought employment program and seen it oversubscribed. The program plays a crucial role in assisting farmers earn an income while also helping to protect environmental assets under threat from drying conditions."
"We know water is crucial to our communities - to our sporting ovals, our hospitals, our schools and our industries."
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events John Eren
“We’re giving drought affected communities the sport and recreation facilities they deserve, because we know grassroots sport brings regional communities together and boosts morale.”
“We want all Victorians to enjoy the great benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle, no matter where they live.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020