12 September 2018

Farmers welcome short-term relief but long-term vision is still desperately needed

The Victorian Farmers Federation welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement of relief arrangements for farmers currently contending with drought and dry conditions in parts of Victoria, but is urging more be done to deliver for agriculture in the long-term.

VFF representatives, including President David Jochinke, will join the state Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford in East Gippsland today on visits to drought-affected parts of Victoria, as the State Government announces $5 million in relief measures for farmers and communities.

The package includes $1.4 million for on-farm Drought Infrastructure Grants and funding for mental health, community resilience and counselling programs.

“Victorian farmers are highly resilient, adaptable and innovative. Nevertheless, there are circumstances of prolonged dry and drought where self-reliance and sheer determination are not enough on their own. That point has now been reached in parts of Victoria,” said Mr Jochinke.

“Dry conditions, late season frost events and high fodder and water prices going into spring are all currently creating challenges in parts of the state.

“Farmers have highlighted the need for measures including relief from fixed costs such as their council rates, as well as improved heavy vehicle regulation to facilitate movement of hay and fodder, investment in stock containment areas and appropriate mental health and counselling services.

“The VFF notes the State Government has listened and responded to some, but not all of these calls with its package announced today.

“We are a resilient, adaptable and innovative sector, and we contend with drought and other extreme weather events as a routine part of doing business in Australia. Nevetheless, there is no question that major action is required from our political decision makers to ensure we are better placed heading in to the future.

“These relief measures are welcome but there is still a need from all sides of politics to implement a long- term vision and strategy for agriculture. We are after more than short-term measures. We need policy and

infrastructure solutions which see us through the phases of preparation, being in drought and recovery. “In the lead up to the 2018 state election we need a genuine commitment from our political leaders to a vision which delivers for agriculture and does not ignore the long term-issues which Victoria’s farmers have been raising for years.

“We need a decent regional and rural roads network, we need relief from the rates burden with reports coming in of increases of up to 40 per cent on some farm properties, and we need to address the infrastructure deficit between rural and regional Victoria.”

Media Contacts:
David Jochinke, Victorian Farmers Federation President, 0427 834 524
Andrew MacDonald, Stakeholder Media & Communications Advisor, 0418 282 875

About the VFF
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is dedicated to representing the interests of farmers and making a positive difference to their businesses and communities. We strive to create an environment for our members, our farmers, that enables profitable, safe, sustainable production to ensure an enduring social licence in a community that respects and values the sector.