Australia

Farmers set to receive A$100m drought aid from government

Australia farmers have seen their incomes badly affected by drought (file photo 2010) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Australia farmers have seen their incomes badly affected by drought (file photo)

Farmers may soon receive as much as A$100m (£53m) in drought assistance from the Australian government.

The package will offer concessional loans at interest rates pegged at 3.2%.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said some farmers in Queensland had not earned any income for three years because of drought.

Much of Australia has received lower than usual amounts of rain this year, while the country has just experienced its hottest spring on record.

"Large parts of Queensland and parts of New South Wales are experiencing the worst dry conditions on record, with rainfall at historical lows in many areas," Mr Joyce said.

In the past, the government has provided billions of dollars' worth of drought assistance to farmers.

The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) had called on the government to strengthen drought assistance measures that were announced earlier this year.

NFF President Brent Finlay said farmers needed lower interest loans with longer terms of repayment, less paperwork to receive government allowances and additional funding for water infrastructure and pest control.

"These measures will not only assist farmers while in drought, but will help them recover and quickly ramp up production when the rains do come," said Mr Finlay.

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Media captionWatch: Australian farmers are counting the cost of drought as their land turns to dust. Phil Mercer reports from New South Wales

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