Cash strapped North East dairy farmers get the opportunity to explain their frustrations trying to access emergency financial assistance when they meet with Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie at Tangambalanga next month.
The round table meeting on Monday, December 12, is one of four across Victoria confirmed by the government this week, after pressure from Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan.
“It’s time now for action to fix the delays,” Ms McGowan said.
“The dairy industry is vital to Indi and to the national economy.
“The government needs to look after our dairy farmers and their families, many of whom are in serious distress.”
The 10.30am meeting will bring together Senator McKenzie on behalf of Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, North East dairy farmers, dairy industry representatives, the Department of Human Services and Ms McGowan.
Senator McKenzie said meetings were to hear first-hand about the delivery of the government’s $579 million dairy assistance package to support farmers affected by reduced farmgate milk prices.
“$45.5 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans have been approved for Victorian dairy farmers and there are currently 378 Victorian dairy farmers receiving the Farm Household Allowance, an increase of 263 since the 2nd of May,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The Coalition is getting assistance out the door and it is hitting the ground to help farmers in need.”
However, McGowan said some farmers in her electorate were waiting five months for access to support money.
“Farmers have been reporting to me great frustration in applying for Farm Household Assistance,” she said.
“There are delays of up to 20 weeks for applications to be processed.
“The process is too complex and slow. Completing it online is difficult for people without adequate access to the internet.
“Senator McKenzie will hear first-hand about the hardship the delays have caused dairy farmers who are dealing with an incredibly tough time in the industry.
“Action is needed to provide the resources to get the money flowing where it is needed without adding to the farmers’ distress.”
Anyone wanting to attend the meeting should contact Ms McGowan’s office on (02) 6024 6284.
Farmers can call Agriculture Victoria’s hotline on 132 316 to check the status of their claims.