Grants to assist bushfire farmers

By Staff Writer

More than 1000 farmers directly impacted by the Victorian bushfires will receive one-off grants as part of a $7 million Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund package, the State Government has announced.

The grants will help farmers repair or replace destroyed or damaged farm infrastructure.

Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund advisory panel chair Pat McNamara and the Premier John Brumby said $10,000 and $5000 would be made available to support primary producers to boost their business viability after the fires.

“The fires destroyed or damaged thousands of kilometres of fencing with many sheds, equipment, livestock feed, generators, machinery and sadly, livestock lost. Land and water resources were also badly affected,” McNamara said.

“The Appeal Fund has been acutely aware of the challenges being faced by farmers and these grants will help them replace destroyed or farm equipment or rebuild fencing. It can also be used to reimburse farmers who have already invested their own money to meet these costs."

McNamara said that recent changes to Australian Tax Office laws gave extra flexibility to the Appeal Fund to provide support.

“The funding is in addition to assistance already delivered by the Appeal Fund to rural landowners affected by the fires through the Rural Property Assistance Scheme which provided $5000 to rural landowners with properties greater than two hectares affected by the fires.”

Under the new Primary Producers Repair and Restoration grant, farmers who did not receive the Commonwealth’s National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) Clean Up and Restoration Grant will receive $10,000 from the Appeal Fund. This group is made up of primary producers who earned less than 51 per cent of their income from their farming business in 2008/09.

“The Appeal Fund felt it was important for primary producers who, for whatever reason, generated less than half of their income in the last financial year from their farming business to also receive support from the Fund,” McNamara said.

“This is because many have supplemented their incomes by taking on second jobs or having partners work off the farm and the intent of the Appeal Fund is to help those who need it the most."

Primary producers who did receive the NDRRA grant received it because they generated more than 51 per cent of their income from their farming business. This group will receive $5000 from the Appeal Fund, on top of the up to $25,000 they received from the Commonwealth.

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