22 February, 2019

Primary producers need practical assistance, now

The peak grower representative body for the Australian wool industry, WoolProducers Australia (WoolProducers) is today calling on all levels of government, regardless of party, to offer practical assistance to farmers currently facing hardship.

The vast nature of Australia means that we currently have a number of areas across the country facing crisis. WoolProducers CEO Jo Hall said ‘We currently have producers in far North Queensland dealing with catastrophic fallout from floods, large areas of NSW in drought and the Gippsland area of Victoria dealing with the driest conditions on record’.

WoolProducers acknowledges that there are different types of assistance available to people in these areas, but the assistance being offered varies greatly across the country.

‘Assistance must be made easier to apply for, be processed faster, and be distributed quickly so that farmers can continue producing the food we eat and the fibre we wear.’ Ms Hall said.

Today’s announcement by the Victorian government that they will not issue a rate reprieve for those battling drought in Gippsland contrasts sharply with the approach taken by the NSW government, who have waived this year’s Local Land Services levy.

“When you need help, seeing others in need able to get assistance that you can’t, becomes incredibly frustrating. One off cash payments will not address this issue”.

“The cash payment of $2,500-$3,500 will only address on average a 30% rate payment and in the scheme of things, while the cash injection will be appreciated to some extent, it does not go anyway in offering real assistance to those producers in dire need”.

“This is not about party politics and we are not asking for handouts. But we firmly believe that there are practical measures that all jurisdictions can take to alleviate the pressure facing not just farmers, but all people in regional economies who are battling” Ms Hall said.

Whilst preparedness is an important part of business risk mitigation, there is a limit to what producers can prepare for and in regional economies, if primary producers are not doing well financially then the whole regional economy suffers.

“Preparedness can only last so long, this is about managing and sustaining regions to ensure that they can survive these exceptional circumstances and be setup to flourish and thrive when favourable seasons return.”

“The time for preparedness has long past for many producers and despite their best efforts cannot be expected to carry on without tangible assistance.” Ms Hall said.