The Federal Government has announced an initial $100 million in emergency funding to help farm, fish and forestry businesses in fire-affected areas rebuild.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the government would provide up to $75,000 in grants for farming businesses in fire-affected regions, with the funding administered by each state government.
“I need to stress this is an uncapped program so if demand for support goes above $100 million, money will continue to flow,” Mr Morrison said.
“As the scale of the damage becomes apparent, it is clear that our farm, our fish and forest businesses need support, and along with communities who depend on them, we will help them rebuild and we will continue to back them.
“This funding will support primary producers to access essentials like fodder and water, while also help rebuild fencing or hire vital agricultural equipment like water pumps, irrigation systems, horticultural netting and generators.”
Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said so many rural businesses had been hard hit by the bushfires and they were now looking at how they could rebuild.
“Rural and regional communities particularly across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have been hit hard by the bushfires and we will continue to work together to support all those Australians whose livelihoods have been devastated by these fires,” Ms McKenzie said.
“This funding could help pay for tradespeople to conduct farm safety inspections, for veterinary fees, waste disposal and to repair any damaged property.
“These grants of up to $75,000 will help get them the equipment they need to start rebuilding.
“We’re working closely with farming groups to develop specific industry recovery plans.”
Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the grants were designed to make sure farmers are equipped to get the job done.
“We are working with the states to get these funds to farmers as quickly as possible under existing Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements,” Mr Littleproud said.
As with the grants for the North Queensland floods in early 2019, funds under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement will be made available to state governments of impacted communities, on request, for delivery through their relevant state disaster response agency.
“This is critical support for primary producers to meet their immediate needs in getting their agriculture businesses back up and running where those needs are not covered under existing insurance policies,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Primary producers from farmers and fishers to private foresters and beekeepers will all be eligible to apply under the extended definition of primary producers in the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.”
Farmers who have been tackling the drought and have off-farm income won’t be disadvantaged, the same off-farm income rules for Farm Household Allowance will apply. This means farmers that aren’t eligible for Category C payments due to off-farm income rules will still be eligible for up to $75,000 to help them normalise their farm businesses as quickly as possible.