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More than $20 million has been provided to primary producers and small businesses in East Gippsland to help their recovery from the summer bushfires, says local MP Darren Chester.

That total may grow further after the deadline for two assistance programs was extended to give farmers and business owners more time to apply for help.

“These grant programs have provided important financial support to people impacted by the fires,” Mr Chester said. “I am urging producers and those in small business not to assume they won’t qualify.

“There is now more time to apply for a grant and I want everyone who is eligible to get the support they are entitled to receive.

“And don’t hold back from applying because you think there are others worse off than you. There is enough help available for everyone who needs it.”

In East Gippsland, more than 170 primary producers have received payments totalling $11.41 million through the Primary Industries Grants program and 909 small businesses have received $10,000 payments through the Small Business Bushfire Support Program.

The Emergency Bushfire in Primary Industries Grants of up to $75,000 are open to primary producers, including wine grape growers, directly impacted by fire and can be used to cover the costs of farm recovery works.

The $10,000 Small Business Bushfire Support Grant is designed to help smaller businesses, including primary producers, not impacted by the flames but struggling with significant income loss caused by the bushfires. The grant is also available to businesses that were directly impacted.

Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said the extension of these two programs to January 31, 2021 was needed due to the impact of the fires and the coronavirus.

“We recognised this has been the toughest of years for fire-affected communities. That’s why we agreed to extend the closing period for primary producer grants and small business support grants programs in Victoria,” Mr Littleproud said.

“These programs are helping primary and small businesses right across fire-affected areas get back on their feet. I would urge any affected primary producer or business owner to speak to the support agencies and see what they are eligible for.”

To apply, visit www.ruralfinance.com.au  or call 1800 260 425. For details about financial support available to bushfire-affected businesses, primary producers, community groups and individuals, visit www.brv.vic.gov.au or call 1800 560 760.

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