Grant criteria for farmers too tight and inaccessible

The tight guidelines for the $75,000 grant for primary producers need to be loosened so famers have more money up front and don’t have to earn 50% pf of their income from the farm to be eligible.

It is making things difficult and State MP Janelle Saffin has gone into bat for primary producers.

Ms Saffin wants a review of the guidelines that make it difficult for farmers to access the $75,000 Primary Producer Grant to help them recover from the floods.

Many farmers had complained about having grant applications denied, shutting them out of vital Category D Natural Disaster Assistance, she said.

Two main issues were raised with the State Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt.

One was for there to be more generous up-front payments of the grant.

The Small Business Disaster Recovery Grant provides an up-front payment to eligible applicants of $25,000 or 50% of the total $50,000.

“Why not increase the up-front payment for the $75,000 Primary Producer Grant from $15,000 to $37,500 so farmers can get access to the funds they need for urgent clean-up and recovery costs?” Ms Saffin said.

The other issue was the eligibility criteria for the grant that insisted on farmers having to earn at least 50% of gross income from their primary production enterprise.

“This antiquated off-farm income rule does not recognise the economic reality that it is commonplace for one partner to be working off farm so that they can continue farming,” Ms Saffin said.

“Some relaxation of this criteria to a more reasonable percentage is long overdue so we as a nation and state do not effectively make our agricultural sector a more marginal proposition for people keen to work within it and see it grow.”

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