Criteria could restrict milk rescue package


A Colac district farmer says he’s relieved the Federal Government has announced assistance for farmers, but strict criteria might restrict farmers from accessing help.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce this week unveiled a support package for dairy farmers struggling with milk price cuts.
The package includes financial counselling, tracking of milk prices, and the chance to apply for welfare payments and low-interest loans.

But Larpent farmer Mark Billing said he was concerned strict criteria might restrict farmers from accessing support.
“It’s been very difficult in the past to get access to those loans, so I’m not sure whether the criteria has changed at all,” he said.

“Again, make it a little bit easier for farmers, because it is hard to get off the farm and do that.”
Mr Joyce said the package’s immediate assistance would help farmers return to profitability.

Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson said the package would allow farmers to apply for $555 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans, and allocated $2 million to establish a commodity price index, $900,000 for an additional nine rural financial counsellors and $900,000 for Dairy Australia’s Tactics for Tight Times program.

Ms Henderson said government assistance would also include 18 more Department of Human Services employees for processing claims, the appointment of a Human Services dairy industry liaison officer and redirection of two Department of Human Services Mobile Service Centres to dairy regions.

For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.

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