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December 22, 2015

Gippsland will receive an increase in Australian Government funding for its rural financial counselling service, Federal MP Darren Chester has announced.

Rural Financial Counselling Service – Gippsland Inc. (RFCS-G) is the current provider of financial counselling services for the Gippsland region and was today confirmed as one of 12 groups that will deliver assistance to farmers and primary producers experiencing financial hardship, until 2019.

The region covered by RFCS-G extends from the Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Ranges to the New South Wales border in East Gippsland.

Mr Chester said the Gippsland service boundary was little changed and RFCS-G would receive a slight increase in funding support under the new arrangements.

“Farmers and rural small businesses can take measures to mitigate the risk of drought and dry conditions on their bottom line, but there will be times where financial hardship is unavoidable,” Mr Chester said.

“Gippsland’s rural financial counsellors are professional and well-trained in recognising the demands placed on local farmers and producers.

“This Federal Government funding will ensure our local farmers and rural business owners can have access to their services, when they need it.”

Chairman of RFCS-G, Mr Richard Habgood, said the funding would ensure continuity of service for eligible farming and fishing enterprises. From April onwards, forest growing and harvesting enterprises in financial difficulty will also be eligible.

“Our rural financial counsellors are able to provide a range of assistance that includes financial assessments, cash flow budgeting, help with government programs, farm debt mediation, development of business options, loan applications and succession planning,” Mr Habgood said.

Recent dry conditions were resulting in an increase in demand for rural financial counselling.

“Large parts of Gippsland are experiencing dry conditions, particularly in the south and west of the region where the Bureau of Meteorology has reported one-in-20 year rainfall deficiencies,” Mr Habgood said.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said $47 million would be made available to RCFS providers from April 2016 to June 2019.

“The RFCS has been providing an important service to farmers and rural communities for almost 30 years—and we are committed to seeing the good work of the RFCS continue strongly into the future,” Mr Joyce said.

In nominal terms, RFCS base funding has increased nationally. RFSC-G will receive $2,588,597.11 from the Australian Government over the contract period.

CAPTION: Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester with Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.




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