Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealed that the Federal Government will provide further assistance for drought-stricken graziers during his two-day listening tour of western Queensland and New South Wales earlier this week.
The PM said that the assistance package will be announced next week and will include low-interest loans, income support and a range of social service programs.
According to the article on The Australian, the government also plans to provide cheaper and longer loans, for larger amounts of money than those currently available under the $420 million Farm Finance package that was approved last year.
This final round of financing will raise the assistance package provided to $700 million and loans of less than 4.5% will also be available to drought-stricken farmers.
Some farmers have applauded the Government’s decision, while others claim that the damage is irreparable and farmers were left on their own for too long.
“What they’ve been doing so far is 12 months behind the time. The situation has got more dire than they can really appreciate. God willing we don’t have to endure another year. But if 2014 is a repeat of 2013 then literally millions of cattle will die,” said grazier John Lethbridge who was forced to sell off 90% of his cattle due to the state of the industry, which according to him, is the worst it’s been in 100 years.
Barry Hughes, Chairman of the Northern Gulf Graziers Group, hopes the Government will expand eligibility for exceptional circumstances financial relief as desperation and urgency among graziers are building up.
According to Mr Hughes, the cattle industry is about to shrink significantly in the next five years since almost all graziers that have been greatly affected by the drought are exiting the industry.
Mr Hughes further adds that low cattle prices, the flooded domestic market and the effects of the temporary ban on live cattle export trade in 2011 are also major issues that have had catastrophic impacts on the industry.
The Bureau of Meteorology said rainfall is expected over most of the drought area in Queensland, so farmers are hopeful that the end of the dry spell is nearing its end.