Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, welcomes the emergency support package announced by the Federal Government today for the dairy industry, while calling for a long-term strategy to help dairy businesses remain sustainable.
“Dairy farming businesses in Indi, including the Kiewa, Upper Murray, Mitta, Ovens and King valleys, have been desperately calling for a strong approach to this emergency,” Ms McGowan said.
As the daughter of a dairy farmer, and having 10 years’ experience working in the dairy industry, Ms McGowan understands the importance of the support package, particularly the ‘boots on the ground’.
“It’s important the Government has acted on the concerns of dairy farmers struggling in regional Victoria,” Ms McGowan said. “The immediate assistance will help farmers get through these tough times, including quicker access to social service payments, business advice and financial counselling. An increase in staff to process Farm Household Allowance claims is also an important part of the package.”
Ms McGowan urges all dairy businesses needing assistance to contact Goulburn Murray Hume AgCare on 1300 834 775, or visit the Wodonga office 2/109 Hume Street.
Ms McGowan said using the drought concessional loans model would potentially present issues for dairy businesses because of strict criteria. “While concessional loans are helpful, they have been problematic in the past. I will be paying close attention to ensure that dairy farming families can access the loans,” Ms McGowan said.
Ms McGowan said farmers need a level of certainty to plan for the future and is calling on dairy companies to announce their indicative opening prices for the next 18 months. “This will enable farming businesses to prepare budgets and do the necessary planning,” Ms McGowan said.
Regional businesses servicing the dairy industry have also taken a hit. Ms McGowan is calling on the Government to consider this important sector for support during these tough times.
Dairy support package highlights:
- $555 million Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans
- $900,000 for additional Rural Financial Counsellors in regional Australia
- $900,000 – Rural Financial Counselling Services
- Farm Household Allowance applications fast-tracked
- Department of Human Services Dairy Industry Liaison Officer appointed
- Department of Human Services Mobile Service Centres to dairy regions