Drought stricken pastoralists will get more support from the State Government, after Agriculture Minister Kim Chance today announced the establishment of a new 2005 Pastoral Dry Season Assistance Scheme.
Mr Chance said the scheme, co-ordinated by the Rural Business Development Corporation through the Department of Agriculture, would reimburse eligible pastoralists their Agriculture Protection Rates for the 2004-2005 financial year.
The grants would be available to pastoralists who had received the Year One or Year Two Exceptional Circumstances (EC) Interest Rate Subsidy (ECIRS) and/or the Year One or Year Two EC Relief Payment (ECRP), where they had also demonstrated a significant fall in production.
Broadly, the area covered stretches from the southern Pilbara through the Gascoyne Murchison and down to the pastoral areas of southern Kalgoorlie.
The move follows the decision by the Pastoral Lands Board to waive the annual pastoral lease rent for 2004-2005.
Mr Chance said the scheme was a continuation of financial relief offered last year to supplement the 2003 EC Declaration, which recognised the exceptionally dry seasons of 2001, 2002, 2003 and continuing through 2004.
“The previous scheme finished on September 30, 2004 and provided assistance to 62 pastoralists who received more than $211,000 for the annual pastoral lease rent and agriculture protection rates,” he said.
“Much of the 2003 EC declared area is still experiencing drought conditions, which for some pastoralists is their fifth consecutive year, especially in the Gascoyne-Murchison area.
“In response to these continuing dry conditions, the Australian Government recently extended the 2003 pastoral EC declaration by a further 12 months. Pastoralists can receive a further 12 months of EC Relief Payments through Centrelink from April10, 2005, and an extra year of the EC Interest Rate Subsidy from July 2, 2005 through the Department of Agriculture.”
More information was available from the Farm Business Development Unit at the Department of Agriculture on free call 1800 198 231.
Minister's office: 9213 6700