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AUS: Poultry Farmers Urged To Apply For Help

HON WARREN TRUSS MP MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

24 AUGUST 1999

Poultry Farmers Urged To Apply For Farm Family Restart

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Warren Truss, has urged poultry farmers at Mangrove Mountain, who are suffering severe financial hardship, to apply for assistance through the Farm Family Restart Scheme

Mr Truss said the scheme, which provides up to 12 months of income support, is available even if an area is not declared to be in exceptional circumstances (EC) and may be able to help eligible farmers with basic living expenses.

Speaking in Federal Parliament last night, Mr Truss said the Federal Government has provided unprecedented support to the poultry producers at Mangrove Mountain.

Following strong representations from the Member for Robertson, Mr Jim Lloyd, poultry producers have been granted ex gratia welfare payments while their farms have been in quarantine. Some 95 farmers affected by the outbreak of Newcastle disease have received payments since April.

"The Federal Government will also make the largest single contribution to the disease eradication costs - an estimated $10 million," Mr Truss said.

Mr Truss said the Federal Government has advised NSW that at this stage insufficient information is available for an exceptional circumstances declaration to be made.

"Comments from the Opposition that the application has been unnecessarily delayed are wrong."

The criteria for EC assessment, which were unanimously agreed by the State and Federal Governments in March, state that EC is available only in rare cases of severe financial downturn, lasting more than 12 months, caused by a 'once-in-a-generation' natural disaster.

Advice from the Bureau of Rural Sciences and ABARE to the Government has stressed that the effects of the three-month period of quarantine will be best assessed when restocking of farms and new contracts have occurred later in the year.

The conditions are rigorous because the program is intended to apply only in the most exceptional circumstances. Other relief programs, such as State-based support programs or the AUSVET PLAN should be accessed before resorting to exceptional circumstances.

Decisions on granting EC payments are made on the basis of recommendations from an independent body - the Rural Adjustment Scheme Advisory Council - composed almost entirely of farmers and industry experts.

Mr Truss said the local federal member, Jim Lloyd, has been tireless in enlisting government support for the Mangrove Mountain farmers and is continuing to pursue local farmers' needs. Farmers interested in accessing FFRS should contact their local Centrelink office.

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