More assistance for drought-hit farmers
29 June 2015
Farmers battling drought will have access to more free assistance, with $880,000 in additional funding flowing to the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) from 1 July to increase service hours in drought-affected areas across Australia, including service providers in Toowoomba, Townsville, Bundaberg, Longreach, Walgett, Coonabarabran and Bourke.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the government was committed to supporting producers through drought, and that the funding was the first tranche of $1.8 million announced with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in May.
“It’s no secret some Australian farmers and rural communities are under pressure from a number of challenges, including prolonged and unprecedented drought conditions in parts of the country,” Minister Joyce said.
“Times of drought can put severe pressure on both farm and household budgets, and the RFCS has been providing valuable free advice to rural communities since 1986.
“This includes supporting them through business planning, farm debt mediation and helping them access sources of professional, industry and government assistance.
“We’ve made $880,000 available for the first six months of the financial year, with the remainder to be allocated later in the financial year when we can reassess the areas in need.
“There are a number of pockets across Australia experiencing prolonged drought, and these areas will be funded to meet increased demand for RFCS services that can’t be met with existing resources, and almost half of the funds will be directed to Queensland in recognition of the extreme drought conditions experienced by that state.
“This funding boost will improve the capacity of the RFCS to support farmers in need, by increasing the availability of counsellors and offering more service hours.
“These funds are in addition to the $14.3 million for the 2015–16 financial year already allocated to the RFCS programme.”
The Australian Government provides grants to 14 not-for-profit organisations to employ suitably qualified rural financial counsellors – there are about 120 financial counsellors currently working across Australia.
These funds are part of the Australian Government’s $333 million drought support package, announced on 9 May 2015. For more information on the range of assistance available to farmers, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance