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Farm assistance doesn't go far enough: Jacobs

Jo Prendergast, Tuesday August 6, 2013 - 17:45 EST
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Member for Eyre Graham Jacobs says the WA State Government's farm assistance package hasn't reached some farmers in need. - ABC

Farmers who have given up hope of harvesting a crop this year have been unable to access the State Government's farm assistance grants because of the eligibility criteria.

That's according to Member for Eyre Doctor Graham Jacobs, who says the requirement to have equity in farm businesses of between 55 and 65 % has meant many farmers are unable get the government's $25,000 financial support grant.

Speaking after a breakfast barbeque for growers and industry leaders held in Southern Cross yesterday, Dr Jacobs says he will ask Agriculture Minister Ken Baston to consider giving some sort of other help to farmers in the Yilgarn region.

"I've not heard of any farmer in the Yilgarn that has been able to access the $25,000, which is really quite sad because the $25,000 wouldn't' solve all their issues but would help," he says.

"I've been to the Minister and the minister's office about that equity band, one of the answers is that it's (farm assistance grants) obviously been over-subscribed already ... but look that may be but I think it shows that the farm assistance package didn't hit the mark as it should have for this area."

In a written statement, a spokesperson from Ken Baston's office disputed Dr Jacobs claims, saying seven farmers in the Yilgarn region had received the $25,000 grant.

"With limited funds of $5m available the package was never going to be able to assist every single farm business so the Government had to make a decision on eligibility criteria," the statement says.

"The minimum equity level of 55% was based on advice that farm businesses with below 55% equity were at a level where unless they had special circumstances were unlikely to be able to continue to operate in the long term. From the data available it was assessed that around 200 successful applications would take the upper limit to 65%."

"The deadline for applications has now closed with hundreds of applications received. More than 200 (which was the original amount initially budgeted for under the first-in, first-funded program) have already been paid $25,000 grants and another $1.5m has been reallocated from other parts of the farm assistance package so up to 60 more eligible businesses can receive grants."

Meanwhile the WA State Government says it now cannot sign up to the Federal Government's farm finance package due to the federal election being called and the Federal Government moving into caretaker mode. Minister Baston's office says it has not received any paperwork to sign up to the scheme.


© ABC 2013

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