Minister fails drought stricken farmers


Minister fails drought stricken farmers


GIPPSLAND South MLA Danny O’Brien was disappointed Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford failed to visit drought affected farmers in South Gippsland during her visit to the region last Friday.

Mr O’Brien claimed the minister’s failure to visit and the government’s recent drought announcements that excluded South Gippsland showed the State Government was ignoring the concerns of Gippsland farmers.

“I understand the minister met with farmers at Phillip Island to be briefed on issues affecting the local agriculture industry, but failed to visit farmers in South Gippsland who have been battling dry conditions for months,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Labor has so far had a blind spot in its drought response when it comes to Gippsland and more needs to be offered to local farmers by the State Government.”

However, Ms Pulford revealed she would be returning to the region in three weeks.

Though her itinerary is yet to be confirmed and Ms Pulford could not disclose where she would be visiting, the minister said she was well aware of the heartache suffered by farmers over the recent dry summer.

“I am conscious of the experience of South Gippsland farmers and what they’ve had to deal with,” she said.

“Our drought response in northern Victoria has shown us the escalation of drought across the state and the need for funding triggered by the economy and the impact of drought.”

Ms Pulford said she had been briefed regularly about the rainfall and understood the summer had been tough for many farmers.

“I have heard from some South Gippsland farmers who were hit hard and said the summer was reminiscent of the drought in 1966. To hear this has been the worst drought in 50 years shows we need to be engaging closely with the community,” she said.

“We respect the battling farmers and will work appropriately to find a great local solution.”

Mr O’Brien said South Gippsland was doing it hard, particularly dairy farmers, who had suffered one of the poorest seasons on record in some areas.

“There are many areas running low on water but right across South Gippsland dairy and other livestock producers have been buying in fodder for some time due to failure of spring and this is costing those farmers dearly,” he said.

“I speak regularly to farmers throughout my electorate and to banks and rural financial counsellors, and whilst the financial situation across the board is not desperate, there are certainly many farms facing increased costs and with an average milk price, this is starting to hurt our communities. It will take some time for some to recover.

“The government should be assisting with water provision for stock in areas such as Yanakie but it could also extend assistance for financial counselling from professional advisors.”

Mr O’Brien acknowledged croppers in the north west who have suffered two or three failed seasons certainly deserved government priority for special assistance, but South Gippsland should not be ignored completely.

“We are usually a very safe farming area, but the current season has been a poor one and Labor needs to be doing more to support South Gippsland,” he said.

Ms Pulford said The Star would be notified about her South Gippsland movements closer to the date.

Dry conditions: Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien surveyed drought conditions in South Gippsland during a recent trip to the Hedley Range near Welshpool.

Dry conditions: Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien surveyed drought conditions in South Gippsland during a recent trip to the Hedley Range near Welshpool.

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Posted by on Apr 5 2016. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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