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Farmer's Exit Grants closed
The Exceptional Circumstances (EC) Exit Grants will be closed to all new applicants as the program allocation of $9.6 million has been fully committed for the 2011-12 financial year.
The funding amount was announced as part of the 2011-12 Federal Budget. The Exit package consists of an exit grant of up to $150,000, an advice and training grant of up to $10,000 to assist in planning for farm exit and a relocation of up to $10,000 to pursue new employment opportunities.
The Exit Grants offers time-limited, one-off exit assistance for those farmers whose farm enterprise is, or was, located in an area covered by an EC declaration on or after 1 July 2010 (formerly 25 September 2007).
Under the program, farmers must sell their farm enterprise and have settled the sale and leave farming.
Landholders who have sold their farm and submitted a claim for the EC Exit Grant, or dispatched a claim for the grant in the mail, before close of business on 10 August 2011, will have claims assessed under existing arrangements.
Successful claims will be paid according to their entitlement under the guidelines.
For information about Exceptional Circumstance Exit Grant applications, contact Centrelink on 13 2316 or go to www.centrelink.gov.au.
MINISTER O'BRIEN ASKS FOR EXTENSION
State Minister for Agriculture Michael O'Brien, said he will ask the Federal Government to extend the exit grant scheme.
I'll be raising the issue with the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Joe Ludwig, to see if the program can be extended", he said.
"It's good that people have had an opportunity to exit with a certain degree of dignity and with minimal financial duress.
"However, I'm concerned that many eligible landowners may have missed out on receiving assistance".
Mr O'Brien said the State Government played a major role in shaping the program's application in the Riverland.
"We recognised that many people on smaller blocks wanted to stay living on their properties after they were taken out of production", he said.
"We argued that people should be able to stay on their farms as long as they removed irrigation infrastructure and were not operating commercially.
"The State Government will continue to support and assist regional communities in distress, as we have done in the Riverland with structural adjustment and drought relief.
'The $20 million Riverland Sustainable Futures Fund, for example, encourages agricultural initiative and diversification", Mr O'Brien concluded.
CHAFFEY MP TIM WHETSTONE NOT HAPPY
Chaffey landholders planning to take Exceptional Circumstances (EC) exit grants have been left high and dry by Labor’s Federal and State agriculture ministers according to Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone.
Mr Whetstone said that some landholders in Chaffey were not only eligible for exit grants but counting on them.
“Senator Ludwig telling landholders they were eligible, and then telling landholders it’s too late because the money has run out, is a cruel blow,” he said.
“Minister O’Brien saying he’ll raise the issue with the Senator, when he should have ensured months ago that every eligible South Australian landholder could obtain an exit grant, is a slap in the face.
“It’s too little and too late. I can only imagine the level of stress and anxiety this has caused for landholders who have taken steps to sell their properties on the understanding they were eligible and would receive exit grants.
“The Federal Government’s allocation of $9.6 million for exit grants was always going to run out before June 2012. The fact that it has run out in only six weeks shows that Labor is still very much out of touch with rural Australia.”
Mr Whetstone said that he had been contacted by a number of eligible landholders who had missed out on exit grants.
“These people went through all the necessary steps and waited six months for the department to deliver the paperwork,” he said. “They were told they were eligible, but have since been told there’s no money left for exit grants.
“Labor simply can’t get anything right, and people in regional Australia are suffering as a result”, Mr Whetstone said.
In the last couple of days, Ashley Lawrie has emerged as one of the local Riverland growers to receive a letter stating that he (and his partner Tania Bradley) will not receive the exit grant. They are claiming that they sold their Kingston on Murray vineyard as part of the requirements to receive the funding and were already pre-approved.
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