WHILE much of the media surrounding the federal government's drought assistance package has focused on the extremely dry conditions in the eastern states, SA farmers are being urged not to self-assess and rule themselves out from help.
Primary Producers SA executive chairperson Rob Kerin urged producers to check if they were eligible for assistance.
“We probably don’t have anywhere near enough of our people applying,” he said.
“The assistance is really about putting food on the table and paying household bills, so it’s very useful money.”
Livestock SA chief executive officer Andrew Curtis said despite welcome recent rains across SA, there were still areas of the state doing it very tough.
“While we recognise that in parts of NSW and Qld the drought has been significantly more prolonged, there are still parts of our state, particularly the north-east pastoral area, and areas of the Flinders Ranges and the Eyre Peninsula, that are well into their second year of drought,” he said.
“While the application process for government assistance is still arduous, we’re fortunate in SA to have a strong rural financial counselling program.
“That’s why we’re urging producers not to self-assess, but to talk to a rural financial counsellor. Once you get over the initial application hurdle, the funding is more accessible than it has ever been.”
Mr Curtis welcomed the safety net of extra drought funding.
“That cash injection is important in supporting regional communities,” he said.
“It’s clear that in a drought, it’s not just the farmers that suffer, it’s regional towns and communities.”
Rural Business Support has requested extra government funding for resourcing to ensure SA producers can capitalise on the new assistance measures.
As part of the funding package, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced an extra $5 million would be made available for rural financial counselling services.
RBS chief executive officer Brett Smith said one of the real positives from the announcement was the increase of the farm asset threshold from $2.6m to $5m.
“The increase means there’s another group of people who can apply for funding that weren’t able to apply previously,” he said.
Mr Smith also urged SA producers not to rule themselves out from assistance.
“While conditions are not as dire as we’re hearing about on the eastern seaboard, farmers in SA are still experiencing hardship due to the dry conditions and a slow start to the season,” he said.
“The extra support measures are timely and will provide a needed financial and morale boost for local producers experiencing financial hardship. In some cases families think they’re ineligible but they may be short changing themselves.”
Details: 1800 836 211 or ruralbusinesssupport.org.au