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Government Provides Further Aid To Flood Areas

Government Provides Further Aid To Flood Areas

The Government has approved a package to ensure that flood-affected farmers and growers can get back on their feet quickly Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said.

Mr Sutton said the floods last month were an extreme climatic event. There was extensive damage to on-farm and regional infrastructure.

"The Government has already provided relief measures ? such as funding for agricultural recovery co-ordinators, enhanced Taskforce Green, Rural Sector Assistance, rural co-ordinators, a technical advisory programme, and changed tax law ? but we feel the scale of the damage and the potential affects on the rural sector are such that extra assistance is justified."

Mr Sutton said that Cabinet today had approved a new agriculture package of about $25 million, most of which is for restoring farm infrastructure and re-establishing crops. He said there was no cap on the amount of government funding for this, and it could increase to match the need.

In addition, the government is also announcing a proposal to remit rates of those most affected by flood damage. About $10 million of this proposal will benefit farmers, Mr Sutton said.

The agricultural package includes:
· 75 per cent government funding for restoring essential on-farm infrastructure;
· 90 per cent government funding for crop re-establishment;
· a single threshold of $10,000 would apply to this package.

The essential on-farm infrastructure is for fixed uninsurable items such as boundary fencing, essential stock water, essential access, essential drainage, flood protection works, and cropping base.

Mr Sutton said New Start grants will be provided to farmers and growers who decide to leave their properties to ensure that they leave with equity of at least $65,000. That will be subject to agreement from other creditors that they will not pursue the recipients to satisfy other debts.

The Agriculture Minister and Finance Minister have been authorized to develop operational details for the relief measures approved under the agricultural recovery programme. It is expected that funding will be distributed by local committees with agricultural recovery co-ordinators and local farming and forestry representatives to validate all claims.

"The Government has said from day one of this disaster that we would be driven by the desire to meet people's needs, not budgets.

"The regions affected by these floods are among the most productive in the country, and it is important for the country as a whole to help flood-affected people re-build their lives and businesses ? as well as common human decency."

Mr Sutton said the whole country had responded impressively to help those affected.

"The rural community in particular has rallied around to help out colleagues in the flooded areas. "


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