​Media Release

Wimmera and Mallee district drought support

5 November 2015

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, was in Warracknabeal today to hear from farmers affected by drought in Victoria's Wimmera and Mallee districts and to highlight the support measures available to them. 

"All across the Victorian wheatbelt, farmers are tackling drought conditions following an unseasonably dry lead into harvest with the latest Bureau of Meteorology Climate Outlook showing average to below average rainfall likely for the region right through until January," Minister Joyce said. 

"This area has endured extended droughts before and it's one of the toughest challenges that farmers face—but they don't have to go it alone. 

"The Agricultural White Paper is delivering $2.97 billion to help families on the land manage risk and prepare for drought—an investment in our nation's future prosperity and the future of regional communities." 

Minister Joyce said $30 million is available right now for Victorian farmers under the 2015-16 round of the Drought Concessional Loans Scheme. 

"As at 30 October 2015, 1078 Farm Household Allowance claims have been granted in Victoria—providing farm families with financial assistance and support so that they can put food on the table and stay on their feet," Minister Joyce said. 

"The Department of Human Services delivers the Farm Household Allowance; more information about this assistance is available by calling the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316. 

"Just this week we provided $500,000 to help the Victorian Government tackle invasive weeds and rabbits on municipal roadsides—part of $25.8 million allocated under the Ag White Paper to tackle pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas nationwide. 

"In 2015–16, $3.7 million has been allocated to Rural Financial Counselling Service providers in Victoria, with 830 clients receiving help from this service in the first quarter of this financial year. 

"Work is underway too on $3.3 million in projects to help farmers manage risk by providing more localised, accurate climate forecasts, and to help them evaluate options for insurance and risk management. 

"A dedicated ATO hotline for drought-affected taxpayers is also up and running on 13 11 42 (select Option 3). More than 8300 calls have already been made to this new service. 

Minister Joyce also highlighted other measures available: 

  • Simplified accelerated depreciation arrangements for fencing—farmers are now able to immediately tax deduct the cost of new fencing in the first year of purchase.
  • Immediate tax deduction of the cost of new water infrastructure, and accelerated three-year depreciation of capital expenditure on fodder storage assets—worth an estimated $86 million.

Minister Joyce urged farmers who have lost their crop to investigate how the Australian Government programmes on offer could help them. 

"It makes good sense to see what assistance you can access—so I encourage farmers not to self-assess their eligibility and to talk through options with an expert," Minister Joyce said. 

For more information on the range of Australian Government assistance for farmers, farm businesses and rural communities, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.  

To find out more about drought concessional loans please contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit ruralfinance.com.au

For more information on the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.