The federal government says West Australian farmers will get access to drought loans as soon as possible.
West Australian farmers are disappointed after being told the roll-out of a much-needed federal drought package will be delayed for several months.
The WA government has warned farmers not to expect immediate access to concessional loans part of the government’s $320 million drought package, which is likely to be many months away.
A spokeswoman for WA Agriculture Minister Ken Baston said the state was still working out loan guidelines with the federal agriculture department.
WA Farmers Association president Dale Park says farmers were concerned about the delay.
“They’re pretty disappointed,” he told AAP on Thursday.
“I thought we had this resolved, and no, we haven’t yet.”
There’s been more focus on severe drought conditions in Queensland and northern NSW than in WA, where some farmers have been without a decent crop for six years.
However, Mr Park said the plight of farmers in the eastern wheatbelt has worked in their favour.
“If (WA farmers) had been on their own they would have had absolutely no traction, so the drought in the eastern states has given us a reason to say, `No, we’ve got some fellas here just as badly affected’.”
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says the delay is due to stringent checks on inter-governmental agreements.
The federal agriculture department will finalise “as quickly as possible” those agreements to get those drought funds flowing.
“I’m very aware of the people, especially around Southern Cross, who’ve been dealing with the dry spell and want to get access to that money,” Mr Joyce told reporters in Canberra.
“I don’t think (Mr Baston) is delaying it for some mean purpose. I believe they’re making sure there’s diligent guidelines and oversight of commonwealth funds.”
Mr Joyce said he would visit WA for talks with Mr Baston on Friday to make sure the west “sees enough of me to get sick of me”.