Primary producer fire recovery support expanded

Primary producer fire recovery support expanded

The Victorian Government is backing grape growers facing ongoing impacts from last summer’s devastating bushfires as part of joint recovery efforts with the Commonwealth Government.

Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes announced new funding through Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements to help grape growers in local government areas outside bushfire zones who have nonetheless had their crops affected by smoke taint.

A new program provides up to $10,000 for farmers from outside defined bushfire areas who have suffered a decline in revenue or harvest of 40 per cent or more compared to the previous year because of smoke taint.

Applicants are required to provide a dollar-for-dollar co-contribution and can use the support for business recovery, growth and diversification, and improvements to make the business more resilient to future disasters. The grant is available through Rural Finance and is open until 31 December 2020.

For primary producers operating within areas directly affected by bushfire, the Victorian and Commonwealth governments have also expanded the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grant Program, meaning more primary producers will become eligible for payments of up to $75,000 helping clean-up and recovery.

This grant is for primary producers who usually earn at least 50 per cent of their income from farm production and is now open until the end of the year, giving farmers more time to apply for help in the recovery process. The grant money can be used to cover the cost of clean-up and repairs for buildings, fencing and salvaging damaged crops.

Eligibility changes now allow those farmers whose income farm production is less than 50 per cent due to drought, or who are still in the early phases of building up their businesses, to apply for the grant. For these farmers, the $100,000 off-farm income threshold has been removed, and off-farm income is no longer taken into consideration.

Farmers have also been given more time to reach the point where at least 50 per cent of their income is generated from on-farm activities in recognition of long lead times required by some sectors to reach full production. This helps farm businesses in the early years of development in industries like forestry, orchards, vineyards and nuts.

The Victorian Government is working with Wine Victoria to encourage locals to buy Victorian wine either direct from the winery or through local businesses to help boost sales and put winemakers back on the path to recovery.

Producers who have inquired or applied in the past but did not meet criteria may now be eligible and are encouraged to contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425.

Source: Vic Government