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Drought and frost assistance concerns

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Strict eligibility criteria appears to be severely limiting the number of farmers and small business able to access recently announced drought/frost assistant measures according to National’s Member for Benalla Bill Sykes.

Dr Sykes heard of grape growers concerns about the strict eligibility criteria when he attended the AGM of the King Valley Vignerons last week.

Dr Sykes said “Off farm income of $10,000 or more limits access to exceptional circumstances assistance as does income from cellar door sales”.

“This means that many grape growers who are working off farm to keep their farm business afloat are going to miss out. Similarly grape growers who have diversified into cellar door sales to spread their risks are going to be disadvantaged”.

Dr Sykes continued “Similar concerns have been expressed to me by livestock producers who work off farm or have a wife who works off farm. I acknowledge that the government has to manage tax payers money responsibly but given the severity of this drought massive farm costs are going to consume a lot of the off farm income and proceeds from cellar door sales”.

This will leave hardworking farmers and their families struggling to survive yet ineligible for assistance measures intended to help them.

Dr Sykes concluded “I will continue to work with both Federal and State Governments to ensure equitable assistance to those people and businesses severely impacted by the worst drought in living memory and the associated severe frosts”.


Written by Greg Naylor

19 November 2006 at 9:35 am

Posted in media release

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