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Major reforms to rural adjustment scheme



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DPIE92/60C 24 July 1992

MAJOR REFORMS TO RURAL ADJUSTMENT SCHEME

Commonwealth and State Ministers for Agriculture have agreed to a major reform of the Rural Adjustment Scheme (RAS).

The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, said today the new scheme would have a clear focus on sustainable, long-term profitability at the farm level based on structural adjustment and productivity growth.

"The changes also involve a simplification of operations, with a single farm adjustment program, new funding arrangements including shared contributions, betw een the Commonwealth and the States, and new accounting procedures," Mr Crean said.

T h e purpose of the new scheme is to facilitate the more effective management of the farm business and to enhance farm productivity and farm adjustment. To achieve this, the strategic direction, structure and mechanisms for providing assistance, and the administrative effectiveness and accountability of the Scheme will be changed."

Mr Crean also said the changes will recognise the importance erf the scheme as a vehicle for providing assistance to farmers in difficulty in times of severe downturn such as drought. This assistance will be provided to those with sound prospects who are temporarily in financial difficulty.

"The scheme has been in its present form since the beginnning of 1989 and has been revised to take account of changing circumstances in the rural sector," M r Crean said.

"Details of the new RAS will be taken back to Commonwealth and State Cabinets for endorsement and announced later in the year.

'T he Ministers agreed that funding arrangements would allow for commitments under existing RAS guidelines to be continued but be phased out as soon as practicable.

"The new RAS, together with the new drought policy, reflect a commitment by the Commonwealth and States to the development of a more sustainable, profitable and self-reliant rural sector," Mr Crean said.

Information: Catherine Payne, (018) 174 875 or (06) 277 7520.

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Telephone: (06) 277 7520 Facsimile: (06)273 4120