Drought-affected farmers will receive $320 million in a bid to keep them in business.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the government was honouring its commitment, with the federal budget containing the funding for the drought assistance package announced earlier in the year.
It would support farmers through tough times, he said.
There will be up to $280 million for concessional loans, $12 million added to existing emergency water infrastructure schemes and $10 million for pest management.
The government had listened to farmers who didn’t need to wait to be in severe drought to access support, Senator Joyce said.
The government also is providing $100 million in new funding for rural research and development.
“We know there is a strong link between R&D and agricultural productivity growth and recognise it is a key driver to industry and farm gate profitability,” the minister said.
The funding will be directed to research activities that could enhance industry profitability.
Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the Abbott government’s first federal budget could only be described as “business as usual” for the agriculture sector.
But conversely it was full of “nasties” for other rural community members, with increased fuel charges and health cuts hurting pensioners and low-income families.
“Sure the Coalition delivered on an extra $100 million for agricultural research and development, but few people would have expected that money to be delivered over four years,” he said.
“Offsetting that, however, they have also cut funding for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation [by $11 million over four years from 2014-15], so that seems inconsistent and inexplicable to me.
“Increases in fuel charges will hit rural people the hardest, while higher costs to access GP services will really hit pensioners and low-income families who have had their purchasing power reduced.”
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/australia-drought-affected-farmers-get-320m)