Victorian Nationals Leader Peter Walsh has labelled the Andrews Government’s dairy grants scheme ‘‘under-funded and over-promised’’, and accused the government of giving farmers ‘‘scraps off the table’’.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has hit back, defending her government’s grants.
‘‘Our response was rapid and targeted, injecting much needed cash into local economies with an $18million package to support farmers and local businesses as well as families with kindergarten support, financial and much needed mental health and emotional support,’’ Ms Pulford said.
‘‘The vast majority of farmers tell us they don’t want handouts — they want support that will help their business be profitable and boost their local community in tough times.’’
Mr Walsh said just eight per cent of dairy farmers had been helped under the plan, and was critical the grants were released when farmers were busy with calving, hay and harvest.
‘‘Dairy farmers were under enormous stress adjusting to the milk price downturn and making big decisions about their future,’’ Mr Walsh said.
‘‘They had no time to complete onerous paperwork quickly and were angered to discover that the funds were fully exhausted in November — just a month after the announcement.’’