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Western Australia's wheatbelt farmers to receive federal drought assistance.

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AFFA03/196WT - 24 July 2003

Western Australia's wheatbelt farmers to receive Federal drought assistance

More than 1,200 farmers in the Western Australian wheatbelt can now apply for Exceptional Circumstances (EC) drought assistance, Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today.

"The producers covered by today's EC declaration make up 16 per cent of Western Australia's broadacre farmers, and would normally produce 21 per cent of the State's wheat crop," Mr Truss said.

"The EC declaration covers the central north-eastern, central eastern, and central south-eastern wheatbelt region. Producers in a 15-kilometre buffer zone surrounding the declared area will also be able to apply for assistance."

A full description, including boundary details, is attached.

"Eligible producers in the WA wheatbelt can now apply for interest subsidies of up to $100,000 a year for two years, and have access to income support through Centrelink for up to 24 months," Mr Truss said.

Mr Truss said he had accepted a recommendation from the independent National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) that grain producers able to demonstrate a severe and prolonged decline in income due to the drought should be eligible for EC assistance.

"Those producers able to demonstrate that they have experienced two consecutive failed crops between the 2001 to 2003 crop seasons can now apply for EC assistance," he said.

He said some 535 producers in the WA wheatbelt were already receiving EC income assistance through existing declarations for part of the northern wheatbelt (expiring March 2004), and part of the southeastern wheatbelt (expiring August 2003). An EC declaration for another area in the southeastern wheatbelt expired in February this year. And, since July 2001, 461 producers had received interest rate support.

"Producers in WA's central wheatbelt subject to previous or existing EC declarations, can still apply for EC income support, subject to the parameters of today's declaration and Centrelink's eligibility criteria," he said.

"However, they should be aware that, under the EC guidelines, the total amount of interest rate subsidy payable may not exceed $100,000 per applicant in any 12-month period, or a cumulative total of $300,000 over the previous five years.

"Producers should apply for EC Relief Payments at their local Centrelink

office, or by calling Centrelink's National Drought Hotline 13 23 16 (except on national public holidays).

"They should contact the Farm Business Development Corporation, in the Department of Agriculture on 1800 198 231 to apply for EC interest rate subsidies.

"People operating small businesses experiencing a downturn because of the drought can also now apply to Centrelink for interest rate relief on new and existing loans of up to $100,000. They should also use Centrelink's National Drought Hotline."

Mr Truss said the WA wheatbelt's lack of rainfall to January 2003 was considered 'rare and severe'. It resulted in significantly reduced wheat production in 2002, and below average production in 2001.

"Overall, wheat production fell to 26 per cent of average annual production in 2002, severely reducing grower incomes," he said. "A lack of pasture growth, high feed costs, and a lack of water and agistment opportunities for sheep have also affected farm incomes in the area."

Farmers in Western Australia's Southern Rangelands became eligible to apply for full EC from 2 July 2003.

Western Australian wheatbelt EC-declared areas 2003

Central north-eastern wheatbelt Parts of the shires of Dalwallinu, Perenjori# and Morawa#

Central eastern wheatbelt Parts of the shires of Koorda#, Mt Marshall#, Wyalkatchem, Nungarin#, Kellerberrin and Merredin, and the whole of the shire of Trayning

Central south-eastern wheatbelt Parts of the shires of Narembeen, Yilgarn#, Bruce Rock, Kondinin*, Kulin, Lake Grace, Dumbleyung, Kent, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup and the shires of Corrigin and Wickepin.

#covered by northern wheatbelt EC declaration of March 2002 *covered by south-eastern wheatbelt (Zones C and D) EC declaration of August 2001 An EC declaration for the southern wheatbelt expired in February 2003

A full boundary description for each area is provided below

A 15-kilometre buffer zone surrounds the EC-declared area.

CENTRAL NORTH EASTERN WHEATBELT REGION All or part of the shires of Morawa, Perenjori, Dalwallinu

Shire of Morawa - all of the Shire west of the Mullewa-Wubin Road.

Shire of Perenjori - north and west of the following: from the Perenjori/Carnamah Shire boundary, follow Caron Road to the Mullewa-

Wubin Rd. Follow the Mullewa-Wubin Road north to the Perenjori/Morawa Shire boundary.

Shire of Dalwallinu - The area contained by the following roads: from the Dalwallinu/Moora Shire boundary, follow the Dalwallinu West Road east, and continue east onto the Dalwallinu Kalannie Road to the Rabbit Proof Fence Road. Travel north on the Rabbit Proof Fence Road to Wubin East Road. Travel west on the Wubin East Road to Wubin and continue west onto the Gunydi Wubin Road to the Dalwallinu/Coorow Shire boundary.

CENTRAL EASTERN WHEATBELT REGION All or part of the shires of Koorda, Mt Marshall, Wyalkatchem, Trayning, Nungarin, Kellerberrin, Merredin.

Shire of Koorda - west and south of the following: from the Dalwallinu/Koorda Shire boundary, follow Kalannie Kulja Road to the Bonnie Rock Burakin Road. Turn east and follow Bonnie Rock Burakin Road to the Koorda Mollerin Road. Turn south to Koorda. From Koorda, turn east along the Koorda Southern Cross Road to the Koorda/Mt Marshall Shire boundary.

Shire of Mt Marshall - west and south of the following: from the Koorda/Mt Marshall shire boundary, follow the Koorda Southern Cross Road to the Bencubbin Kellerberrin Road. Turn south along the Bencubbin Kellerberrin Road to the Mt Marshall/Trayning Shire boundary.

Shire of Wyalkatchem - east and north of the following: from the Koorda/Wyalkatchem shire boundary, follow south on Wyalkatchem North Road to Wyalkatchem. Continue south onto the Tammin Wyalkatchem Road and east onto Rifle Range Road. East onto Hardwick Road, and then onto to Hammond Road to the Wyalkatchem/Trayning Shire boundary.

Shire of Trayning - the entire Shire.

Shire of Nungarin - the area south and west of the following: from the Mukinbudin/Nungarin Shire boundary on Stock Road, south on Chandler North West Road to the Chandler Merredin Road. Follow the Chandler Merredin Road south to the Nungarin/Merredin Shire boundary.

Shire of Kellerberrin - east of the following: from the Trayning/Kellerberrin Shire boundary on the Kellerberrin Yelbeni Road, continue south to the Kellerberrin Bencubbin Road, and through to Kellerberrin. South on to the Kwolyin Road West, and then on to the Kellerberrin Shackleton Road down to the Kellerberrin/Bruce Rock Shire boundary

Shire of Merredin - west and north of the following. from the Bruce Rock/Merredin Shire boundary, north on to the Bruce Rock Merredin Road to Merredin. East on the Great Eastern Highway to the Merredin/Westonia Shire boundary.

CENTRAL NORTH EASTERN REGION Parts of the shires of Narembeen, Yilgarn, Bruce Rock, Kondinin, Kulin, Lake Grace, Dumbleyung, Kent, Gnowangerup,

Jerramungup, and the shires of Corrigin and Wickepin.

Shire of Narembeen - south of the following: from the Bruce Rock/Narembeen Shire boundary, travel east on the Wogarl West Road to Dixon Road. East on Dixon Road and then south onto Coverley Road to Soldiers Road. East on Soldiers Road to the Narembeen/Yilgarn Shire boundary.

Shire of Yilgarn - there is a small area in the southernmost part of the agricultural land area bounded on the west and north with the Narembeen Shire, and the vermin proof fence on the east (near the Woolocutty CBH bin, and just south of Calzoni Road), and the area south of Soldiers Road east across to the vermin proof fence.

Shire of Bruce Rock - south of the Old Beverley Road.

Shire of Corrigin - the entire shire.

Shire of Wickepin - the entire shire.

Shire of Kondinin - West of the following. from the Vermin Proof Fence follow Murray Rock Rd to Forbes Rd and then south to and along King Rocks Rd to Sharps Rd. South along Sharps Rd and west into Pederah Rd East. South onto the Allen Rocks Rd to the Kondinin/Kulin shire boundary.

Shire of Kulin - West of Alymore Rd.

Shire of Lake Grace - West of the following. from the Kulin/Lake Grace shire boundary, south along Burngup Rd North to Burngup. Then East and south on Burngup Rd to the Lake Grace Newdegate Rd. East and then south on to Fourteen Mile Rd to the Lake Grace/Kent shire boundary.

Shire of Kent - (a) Eastern boundary within the shire: from the Kent/Lake Grace shire boundary, south along the Pingrup Lake Grace Rd and then west into Rasmussen Rd. Continue to and then south along Chinocup Rd to the Nyabing Pingrup Rd. Travel East and then south into the Chester Pass Rd and then East onto Rabbit Proof Fence Rd. Continue to the Kent/Gnowangerup shire boundary. (b) Western boundary within the shire: from the Kent/Gnowangerup shire boundary, north along Humphries Rd to and West and along Whyatt Rd. North along Moornaming Rd South to Moornaming. Continue north on Moornaming Rd North and then north along Datatine Rd to the Kent/Dumbleyung shire boundary.

Shire of Dumbleyung - East and north of the following: from the Dumbleyung/Kent shire boundary, North along Datatine Rd and continue through to Dumbleyung. From Dumbleyung, travel north along the Dumbleyung Lake Grace Rd to Tincurrin Rd. North along Tincurrin Rd to the Dumbleyung/Wickepin shire boundary.

Shire of Gnowangerup - North of the following: from the Gnowangerup/Kent shire boundary, south along Rabbit Proof Fence Rd and south and the west along Ongerup Rd North to Chester Pass Rd. West along Chester Pass Rd and west again onto Old Ongerup Rd. Turn north onto Mindarabin Rd and then to Hinkley Rd. West along Hinkley Rd and onto Jones Rd to Dam Rd. North on Dam Rd to the Gnowangerup/Kent shire boundary.

Shire of Jerramungup - the farming area north of the line from the Gnowangerup/Jerramungup shire boundary, east on Cardininup Road, and then east on Stock Road, and east on Carlawillup Road, and then continue north east to the Jerramungup/Ravensthorpe Shire boundary on the Old Ongerup Road. East of the line of White Road - Rabbit Proof Fence Road, and west of the line of Fitzgerald Road - Lake Road - Mallee Road.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Annette Healy - 02 6277 7520 or 0400 368 377