Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, today announced that following independent advice from the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) and improved seasonal conditions, the Exceptional Circumstance (EC) declarations for Bundarra and Eurobodalla will expire as scheduled on 30 April 2012.
“Following the expiry of the EC declarations for these two areas there will be no EC declarations in Australia,” Minister Ludwig said.
“This is a major milestone. The improvement in seasonal conditions after one of the worst droughts on record is very encouraging for farmers and their families and the outlook for agriculture is favourable.”
Minister Ludwig thanked the members of NRAC for their diligent work conducting EC assessments and reviews across Australia.
“The Australian Government has provided $4.5 billion in EC Relief Payments and EC Interest Rate Subsidies to drought affected farmers and small businesses since 2001, highlighting the severity and extent of the recent drought,” Minister Ludwig said.
“For future drought events the government is looking at ways of improving the current system to better help farmers manage risks and prepare for future challenges.”
NRAC advised that improved seasonal conditions in the EC-declared areas have given the majority of producers the opportunity to return to typical farm management practices.
In conducting its assessment, NRAC assessed information provided by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, the New South Wales Government and local producers, together with observations made during their on-ground inspections.
Through the Transitional Income Support program, qualifying farmers coming out of EC declarations can apply for up to 12 months of income support. Information on Transitional Income Support is available from the Department of Human Services or by phoning the Farmers Assistance Line on 1800 050 585.
The Bundarra EC-declared area includes the towns of Abington, Bundarra, Gilgai, Howell, Keera and Tingha.
The Eurobodalla EC-declared area includes the towns of Batemans Bay, Bodalla, Moruya, Narooma and Tilba Tilba.
NRAC’s recommendations on the Bundarra and Eurobodalla EC declarations can be found on the website.