Mitchell farmers ‘locked out’

By McIvor Times

MEMBER for Euroa Steph Ryan has backed calls from Mitchell farmers to be included in the state’s drought support programs.

Ms Ryan said the Victorian Government had excluded Mitchell Shire farmers from a program which provided grants of up to $5000 to assist them with on-farm infrastructure to help manage drought.

‘‘Farmers across Mitchell Shire have been unfairly locked out of this program,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Drought and low rainfall do not end at arbitrary lines on a map as shire boundaries do.

‘‘Things are getting very tough and the drought facing much of Victoria shows little sign of abating. With feed prices increasing and water supplies scarce, even the most well-established and prepared farmers in our district are struggling.

‘‘The government should immediately add Mitchell Shire to the list of areas where farmers can apply for funding for on farm infrastructure and emergency water infrastructure.’’

Ms Ryan said Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes had been very slow to react to the need for drought support with farmers labelling the meagre assistance offered by the government as too little, too late.

‘‘While all help is welcome, Ms Symes needs to put in place measures like shire rate relief and a waiving of the cost of water access fees for irrigators to make a meaningful difference to people in these very tough times,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Unfortunately we’ve only seen half measures from the government to date and even then, only when significant political pressure was applied.’’