April 22, 2009
Farmers in the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) are being encouraged to submit details about rainfall and the current state of their farms to support the case for the full suite of measures available through Exceptional Circumstances (EC) drought funding.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) was expected to visit Gippsland in the coming weeks and would make recommendations about providing full drought support to MID and Latrobe Valley farmers. He said any farmer who could provide data that strengthened the case should contact the local Department of Primary Industries.
“The NRAC recommendations go straight to the Minister’s office and it’s important that they get the full picture of the current conditions in our region,” Mr Chester said.
“The Gippsland DPI has been distributing an easy-to-complete form to help demonstrate the true situation for farming families in the MID. I encourage farmers to complete this form in as much detail as possible to make sure the State and Federal governments get an understanding of how tough it is for local farming families.”
Mr Chester has been an outspoken advocate for farmers since his election in June last year. He wrote more than 50 letters on behalf of individual farmers to the Minister for Agriculture, which helped to reinstate drought support for large parts Gippsland when funding was removed in October.
Mr Chester said he would continue to support community efforts to have full drought assistance restored in the MID and Latrobe Valley.
“The Minister has done the decent thing by extending interim EC assistance to fire-affected communities. Now we need to go the next step and qualify for the full range of measures,” Mr Chester said.
“The Minister will be relying on advice from NRAC to verify our claims and we now need to make sure, as a community, that we provide accurate and compelling data to reflect the extent of the drought and the battle that many farmers are facing.”