GAYLE TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture) (13:30): I am pleased to inform the house that the government is providing additional support for farmers impacted by the March hailstorm which impacted farmers in the City of Greater Shepparton and Yarra Ranges local government areas. This will help farmers recover from the devastating effects of the storm and get their businesses back on track.
New primary producer hailstorm concessional loans are now available for farmers impacted by the 23 March hailstorm. This will provide loans of up to $250,000 to help farmers restore or replace damaged assets and meet general expenses which cannot be met due to loss of income. This is in addition to the range of supports already available, including the primary producer flood recovery grant, the rural landowner grant, the primary producer flood recovery transport support program and the primary producer flood recovery concessional loan. This means that farmers impacted by both the October 2022 through to January 2023 floods and storms and the 23 March hailstorm are eligible to apply for up to $500,000 in concessional loans in addition to the $75,000 in grants. Agriculture Victoria is also providing access to a range of advisory and technical support to help farmers make informed decisions about their businesses and recover as smoothly as possible. Farmers and their families and farm workers impacted by the floods and storms are also eligible for three free online psychological sessions and regionally specific support to help farmer businesses to respond to and recover from the impacts of floods and storm events.
This government is committed to supporting farmers in times of need, and we will continue to work closely with the agriculture sector to ensure that our farmers have the support that they need to recover and to get back to what they do best.