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Farmers across Gippsland experiencing drought conditions can obtain immediate assistance from the Federal Government.

A rainfall deficiency measure calculated by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has replaced the old drought declarations as the trigger for drought assistance measures to commence.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has encouraged all farmers facing drought conditions who are experiencing difficult times to contact their local Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) and seek advice.

Yesterday the Federal Government announced an additional $20 million to extend RFCS contracts to June 2020, so that regionally based staff could continue to work alongside farmers.

“BoM rainfall data shows a serious rainfall deficiency across parts of Gippsland which means farmers from those areas can obtain immediate assistance through the Federal Government’s Farm Household Allowance and Farm Business Concessional Loans,” Mr Chester said.

“Farm Household Allowance provides up to three cumulative years of support for eligible farmers and farmers’ partners experiencing financial hardship. The allowance is equivalent to the Newstart Allowance and is designed to help recipients meet basic household needs.

“The Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme makes available loans up to a maximum $1 million for a 10 year term with interest only repayment for the first five years. Applications for the loans must be received before June 30, 2018.”

Mr Chester welcomed additional funding of $734,000 for RFCS in the Victorian Eastern Region, which includes Gippsland, to extend the current RFCS contract.

Mr Chester said local RFCS counsellors had an important role as drought conditions across the region continue to impact.

“The RFCS is an essential service, helping farming families across Gippsland to access support measures and make plans for the future,” Mr Chester said.

“The counsellors help families make decisions, plan for the future and improve their businesses.”

Mr Chester encouraged farming families impacted by drought conditions to contact their local RFCS counsellor Wayne Jefferis on 1300 045 747 or by email office@rfcsvg.com.au

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