More support sought for drought-affected communities

More support sought for drought-affected communities
Tuesday, 8 May 2018

With parts of Queensland now in their sixth year of drought, AgForce is seeking additional support from the Federal and State Governments for regional communities doing it tough.

AgForce North Queensland Regional President Russell Lethbridge said about two-thirds of Queensland was still drought declared and the prolonged and severe nature of the drought had taken an enormous financial, emotional and environmental toll on country communities.

"The recent summer rain provided hope and relief to some parts of regional Queensland, but didn't break the drought and many areas missed out on the rain they desperately need," he said.

"The ongoing nature of this drought has overwhelmed even the best efforts of producers to prepare and while current government assistance measures are very welcome, they are really only designed for droughts that last two to three years."

Mr Lethbridge said AgForce had recently established the Queensland Emergency Drought Taskforce with 24 western Queensland Mayors and had written to federal and state politicians to outline a series of priorities to provide immediate relief to affected communities.

The priorities include:

•    Capital works investment, such as roads, bridges, stock routes and on-farm water investments to help build and revitalise regions;
•    Review and extension of the Farm Household Allowance income support, including streamlining the application process and excluding essential farm assets from asset tests;
•    Relief from council rates and leasehold land rents for primary producers;
•    Education support for children from remote areas, including continuing and lifting the Living Away from Home Allowance Scheme;
•    Secure three-year funding for mental health support services, including that provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Mr Lethbridge said the measures were short term priorities designed to help drought affected farmers put food on the table and meet household expenses.

"AgForce is seeking a commitment to ensure drought affected Queensland producers have both the immediate support they need as well as long term policy certainty to promote better planning and long-term risk management," he said.

Media Contacts: Scott Whitby 0418 733 102, Sarah Henderson 0427 626 853

More support sought for drought-affected communities

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