Coast farmers snap up drought aid
SINCE the April drought declaration of the Sunshine Coast, 96 claims have been lodged with the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, for more than $500,000 of assistance.
The measures were brought in to help farmers during the crippling drought.
With up to $30,000 available per financial year, DAFF said it had provided almost $24 million in state assistance in the past financial year.
However, one Mary Valley farmer wanted to know why she was not able to receive the assistance, claiming the department ignored fruit and vegetable growers as primary producers.
"We get no support as fruit and veg farmers," she said.
"If we were a big company we might be treated a bit differently."
Not wishing to be identified for fear of retribution, the woman, whose 32ha farm was decimated by floods two years ago, said the State Government was also making it near impossible to access water licences in the valley.
"How do you grow vegies without water? They won't give us a water licence," she said.
DAFF confirmed the drought relief was designed primarily to help livestock producers, but said there was assistance available for other growers.
"The Queensland Government's Drought Relief Assistance Scheme is aimed primarily at livestock producers to ensure animal welfare obligations are met and animals don't die," a DAFF spokesperson said.
"A primary producer is defined as someone who derives the bulk of their income from primary production, regardless of the size of their farming operation.
"In addition, the Federal Government has a Farm Household Allowance scheme which helps farm families with their daily living expenses and is available to eligible farmers Australia wide, without the need for a drought declaration."
Livestock farmers are also offered an Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate.
The Mary Valley farmer said not enough was being done to help fruit and vegetable growers, whose sole income came from the farm.
"We rely on farmer's markets for our income," she said.
"There's people like us. We're fourth-generation farmers ... and our sons won't do it now (farming).
"How can the Valley go forward without being able to use water for the land?"