Yesterday’s Agriculture Bushfire Roundtable led by Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie was an opportunity for the Government to hear directly from the sector about what more could be done to assist with the bushfire recovery process.
The National Farmers Federation joined other farm sector peak bodies in the meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, and the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Jonathon Duniam.
“We thanked Minister McKenzie for the opportunity to explain the situation on the ground for affected farm businesses and how the Government could continue to best assist farmers to recover, rebuild and restore productivity,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
“Many farmers affected by fire are also managing the challenge of the worst drought conditions seen in a century.
“The impact of bushfire has compounded this challenge in many circumstances, making a bad situation dire.”
Ms Simson echoed the views of all at the table in expressing the NFF’s appreciation for the Government’s speedy announcement of a $75,000 grant for fire affected farmers and asked that access to the grant be as quick and simple as possible.
“Cash flow is what is needed to help fire impacted farmers get their businesses back up and running. It is also critical to plan for the medium- to long-term recovery phases, Ms Simson said.
“For farmers who have lost stock, infrastructure and vegetation to fire, an immediate cash injection is needed. Additional funding for 60 new Rural Financial Counsellors to help farmers navigate the recovery process is also most welcome.”
Ms Simson said she was buoyed by the Agriculture Minister’s commitment that bushfire relief was in addition to existing and future drought support measures.
“The NFF also stressed the need to continue to monitor the worsening drought conditions and to consider and consult about what more could be done to support farmers manage drought.”
Ms Simson said the Agriculture Bushfire Roundtable was a valuable forum for each affected agriculture industry to explain their sector’s unique bushfire recovery requirements.
“With so many RFS volunteers, many of them farmers themselves, giving so much to protect our rural communities, and others helping the fire recovery process, it’s critical that yesterday’s words now turn into concrete actions and positive outcomes.”