Joint Media Release

​$500,000 now available for Victorian pest and weed projects

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford

---

2 November 2015

The Australian Government will provide $500,000 to drought affected Victorian councils for projects to control rabbit and weed infestations on country roadsides, in line with its commitment under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. 

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, said the Australian Government would top-up the Victorian Government's $2.6 million Roadside Weeds and Pest Management Program tackling a range of invasive weeds and rabbits on municipal roadsides. 

Minister Joyce said managing pests and weeds has a significant impact on the productivity and profitability of our $57 billion agricultural industries—for example, it's estimated that weed management costs Australian farmers more than $3 billion every single year. 

"And of course, the impacts of weeds and rabbits are felt even more keenly during periods of drought when they put additional pressure on pastures and groundcover. 

"This funding will help the Victorian Government invest additional funds into drought affected councils to provide additional on-ground control of rabbits and weeds such as blackberry and gorse," Minister Joyce said today. 

Minister Pulford said the Victorian Government recognises that the impact of weeds and pests on our regional and rural councils are exacerbated during times of drought.  

"That's why, after listening to their feedback, we've extended the list of eligible weeds, ensuring funding is responding to need on the ground," Ms Pulford said.  

"By supporting councils in managing local roadsides, we are helping to limit the harmful impact of weeds and pests on the farm sector, the environment and our economy. 

"Tackling roadside weeds and pests is particularly important during drought, and this additional funding will help farmers to control weeds and pests moving onto their already drought affected properties."  

Minister Joyce said that the Australian Government would work with the Victorian Government to ensure the funds flow to targeted councils as quickly possible. 

"Roadside pest control projects will be delivered by local councils whose local knowledge, experience and linkages with local farmers will ensure that projects are targeted where they are most needed and likely to have the biggest impact," Minister Joyce said. 

"We understand that with deteriorating seasonal conditions, many producers across Victoria will feel the impacts of drought and we are committed to ensuring they have access to real, practical support when they need it most. 

"We are already delivering on our commitment under the Ag White Paper of $2.97 billion to support farmers and rural communities to strengthen drought preparedness and risk management, as well as providing another $100 million in total for pest and weed management and eradication. 

"Commonwealth Government drought concessional loans are now available, as well as additional community mental health and family support; more funding for Rural Financial Counselling Service providers in drought-affected areas; and projects to help farmers manage risk by providing more localised, accurate climate forecasts, and to help them evaluate options for insurance and risk management." 

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

The Australian Government has a range of support measures available for farmers and rural communities experiencing drought and other hardship, including concessional loans, income support through the Farm Household Allowance, and free financial counselling through the Rural Financial Counselling Service. For more information, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.