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Australia drought-free for first time in decade

Friday April 27, 2012 - 16:13 EST

The Federal Government is set to declare Australia drought-free for the first time in more than 10 years.

Ahead of Monday's expected announcement, the Government has revealed plans to withdraw an interest rate subsidy scheme put in place for farmers during the drought.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig says he is working with the states and territories to put together a new drought policy.

He says the Government's exceptional circumstances interest rates subsidies have been identified as a counterproductive measure and will be cut at the end of this financial year.

"They have for many years assisted some farmers, but they've been criticised heavily as creating dependency in farming communities and not being a policy that actually helps farmers deal with drought," he said.

He says the move clears the way for more effective measures to help farmers manage risk and prepare for drought.

"What it does do is give us a good opportunity now to to sit down with the states and territories and to proactively deal with what a new drought policy will look like into the future," he said.

But Jock Laurie from the National Farmers Federation says the Government's plan could leave farmers in limbo.

He is worried there is no detail about a replacement scheme.

"You can't remove one and then have nothing, just vacant space," he said.


- ABC

© ABC 2012

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