Shadow Agriculture Minister David Ridgway says Minister Bignell must ensure that South Australia’s 250 dairy farmers have equal access to the $555 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans announced by Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce today.
The State Liberals’ demand follows the Weatherill Government’s recent hikes to the ESL and NRM Levy, as well as its failure to successfully administer the Federal Government’s Farm Finance and Drought Concessional Loans Schemes.
South Australian farmers only received 6 out of the 730 successful loan applications across both programs, a mere $3.7 million of the $60 million available to South Australian farmers.
"Once again the Federal Government has stumped up the money and the onus is now on Minister Bignell to ensure South Australian dairy farmers have access to these loans," said Mr Ridgway.
"The Weatherill Government has so far provided minimal financial relief to our dairy farmers.
"We have seen a lot of public fanfare from Minister Bignell but not a lot of action. South Australia’s dairy industry needs financial support."
Mr Ridgway said the Weatherill Government’s $60,000 contribution to the dairy crisis pales in significance to the $11.4 million assistance package announced by the Victorian Government yesterday.
"Once again the Weatherill Government’s blatant disregard for our regions sees our farmers at a significant disadvantage compared to their counterparts across the border," said Mr Ridgway.
"We have been demanding the Weatherill Government exempt South Australian dairy farmers from the recent increase to the NRM Levy for the next 12 months.
"What our struggling dairy farmers definitely don’t need at the moment is an increased tax burden courtesy of the Weatherill Government."