Feds pledge more than $500m to support dairy farmers

Struggling dairy farmers will be able to access a $578 million support package as the Federal Government comes to their aid.

May 25, 2016, updated May 25, 2016
Homebrand milk on sale at Woolworths. Photo: AAP /Dave Hunt

Homebrand milk on sale at Woolworths. Photo: AAP /Dave Hunt

Farmers doing it tough since milk processors slashed farmgate prices will be offered $55 million in low-interest concessional loans up to June 30.

An extra $500 million will be set aside for loans over the next two years, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce announced on Wednesday.

Another $900,000 will fund additional rural financial counselling services and $900,000 to Dairy Australia will provide business advice through the Tactics for Tight Times program.

The government will also allocate an extra 18 staff to speed up processing of farm household allowance claims.

“This will keep the bulls from the door and the dignity in their house,” Joyce told ABC radio.

The package includes a $20 million commitment to upgrade the Macalister irrigation system in Gippsland which Mr Joyce says will deliver water back to the region’s agriculture.

The government will also establish a commodity milk price index to enable farmers to follow price trends.

Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon says Labor will consider the relief plan.

He “sort of” welcomes the package but needs to study it in more detail.

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“While concessional loans are useful and I am considering them too, and I’ll support them of course … I fear the cash flow boost to farmers is going to be very modest indeed,” Fitzgibbon told ABC radio.

Dairy support package at a glance

$555 million in dairy recovery concessional loans.

$20 million to fast track the upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation District.

$2 million to establish a commodity milk price index, for greater transparency.

$900,000 for an extra nine rural financial counsellors in VIC, TAS, SA & NSW.

$900,000 for Dairy Australia’s `Tactics for Tight Times’ program.

Appointment of Department of Human Services Dairy Industry Liaison Officer.

Fast tracking of Farm Household Allowance applications.

Re-direction of two mobile service centres to dairy regions, so farmers can access government assistance.


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