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SA's drought-affected farmers call for equality

Lauren Waldhuter, Friday May 23, 2014 - 12:12 EST
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Sheep feel the impact of the dry conditions - ABC

Drought-affected farmers in South Australia are calling for more equality with their eastern state counterparts, as rainfall levels plummet to two-year lows.

Aspects of the Federal Government's Drought Assistance Package - including funding for pest management and water infrastructure - are only available to South Australian farmers if the State Government commits funding as well.

That hasn't happened yet.

Colin Greenfield, station owner and Chair of Livestock SA's northern branch, says farmers in the dry north-east of the state are desperate for more support.

"You've got a lot fewer people that are affected in South Australia, but that doesn't mean that they're personally any less affected than other properties," he said.

"[The inequality's] been happening for years, but it's reaching a stage with some people now where we're sick of it.

"You turn on the national TV and see stories about Queensland and New South Wales about what some of the pastoralists are receiving there.

"And with what we're receiving here - it certainly doesn't seem fair."

Recent rainfall has helped boost the spirits of some pastoralists, but many say it'll take months of consentient wet weather to have an impact.

The region's Liberal MP Dan Van Hollst Pellekaan has slammed the Labor State Government for acting too slowly on this issue.

"The reality is there is money on the table from the Federal Government to support pastoralists in dire circumstances," he said.

"There is a very long list of ways the State Government can support the people in drought-affected areas.

"They just have to get off their backsides to negotiate a way to spend money that the Federal Government has already made available."

The Minister for Agriculture Leon Bignell says he is currently negotiating an agreement with his federal counterpart which could see more assistance provided to SA farmers.

He says the outcome of these discussions could be known in a couple of weeks, but they haven't led to a funding commitment yet.

"Not at this stage, but we will work with the Federal Government to give whatever assistance we can," Mr Bignell said.

"I've spoken to some of the pastoralists up there, but I'll be heading up there in about five weeks' time to get around and see as many people as we can.

"I want work together with a cross-party purpose so we can all make sure that no-one's left behind."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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