Farmers have tabled a report of measures to the federal government calling for urgent drought assistance.
Newstart-type wage assistance and $5000 grants are some of the measures farmers want in a drought assistance package.
The National Farmers Federation is seeking help to alleviate pressure on debt-laden and drought-affected farmers in parts of Queensland, NSW, South Australia and the NT.
It wants the federal government to lower the barriers in asset tests to help more farmers access household income support, and both to reduce the 4.5 per cent interest rate of the farm finance concessional loans scheme and extend the period of loans.
It’s also looking for $5000 grants to help farmers obtain business advice and Newstart-level wage assistance to help farmers keep workers during drought periods.
Another measure is raising the farm finance package from its current $420 million level, NFF President Brent Finlay told the ABC on Wednesday.
How much it might be raised is a matter for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
“He’s been very tight-lipped about it,” Mr Finlay said.
The fast-tracking of a finance scheme ahead of its planned July 1 rollout out was a “band-aid” measure and urgent assistance was needed, he said.
But Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent pledge to visit drought-affected regions is welcomed.
The prime minister is expected to tour drought-affected parts of Queensland and NSW this weekend.
“It’s morale-boosting to see the prime minister there and looking at what they’ve had to see everyday,” Mr Finlay said.
The full policy report will be released on Thursday.