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Third year of Australian Government drought support granted in areas of South Australia.

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DAFF04/317WT - 16 November 2004

Third year of Australian Government drought support granted in areas of South Australia

Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today that Exceptional Circumstances (EC) assistance would be extended for a further 12-months in the EC declared area of Central North East Pastoral Region of South Australia, and for three SA producers who are part of the south west Queensland EC-declared area.

Mr Truss said he had accepted advice from the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) - an independent committee of farmers and agribusiness professionals - that there had been little opportunity for producers in these areas to recover from the drought.

NRAC assessed these areas as part of the Australian Government's implementation of its Easy EC Rollover policy to consider all EC-declared areas for a year's extension without waiting for new applications from State governments.

"NRAC found that farmers in these areas are still being hit hard by the drought, with rains since the initial EC declaration not enough for a sustained recovery," he said.

"The Australian Government has already provided over $550 million in drought assistance to farmers and rural communities. More than 58 per cent of our viable agricultural land remains EC-declared, including 35 per cent of SA.

"Around 32,150 applications for EC income support, and 13,460 applications for EC business support have already been approved.

"The Australian Government is clearly committed to ensuring farmers in areas that have not had the opportunity to begin recovering from drought can continue to access EC assistance. Today's announcements complete the rollover consideration of all EC areas in Australia for which EC declarations expire this year," he said.

"Farmers in the Central North East Pastoral Region and the three producers attached to the South West Queensland EC area will continue to be eligible for income support payments and interest rate subsidies of up to $100,000 a year for a further 12-months."

For background information, including maps of EC areas:

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

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