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Drought Support Casualty of Fed Budget Blowout

30 April 2012

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - AgForce Queensland is disappointed with the Federal Government’s approach to drought reform following the axing of an important component of drought support for Queensland farmers.

Federal Minister for Agriculture Joe Ludwig announced that from July 2012 farmers will no longer be able to access the Interest Rate Subsidy component of the Exceptional Circumstances drought support package.

AgForce president Brent Finlay said the loss of IR subsidies came as a surprise.

"AgForce is not against reform of drought support measures and a gradual move towards self- preparedness for drought. To that end the National Farmers Federation and AgForce have been working in good faith with Government to develop a fair and equitable package of family and business supports for farmers in hardship. The Government’s decision was unexpected and short circuits the process currently underway,” Mr Finlay said.

"While drought has been replaced by flooding rains in many parts of Queensland it gives no peace of mind for farmers to know this step has been taken without having a comprehensive set of replacement measures in place.”

AgForce acknowledges that interest rate subsidies are not universally supported, but many farmers have relied on this support in the past, particularly young farmers.  

"Young farmers early in their career working to pay down debt, build a reserve and achieve a profitable future have made use of these supports during those vulnerable first few years. Without a suitable replacement support for a business during a drought, this decision would seem to add to their challenges.

“To have the country free of drought is a welcome situation and does provide some time for industry to prepare for the inevitable next one. A measured approach is what is needed to develop a comprehensive drought support policy, not a rushed decision that leaves a gaping hole in the existing system’.     

AgForce seeks an explanation from the Federal Government on its surprise decision.

TheCropSite News Desk



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