Deal to provide aid for farmers a 'dud': Newman
THEY need help, but spats between the Queensland and Federal governments have so far robbed farmers of much-needed aid.
The combination of crippling drought and a glut of cattle caused by the month-long export ban put in place by the Commonwealth in June 2011, means producers are struggling.
The State Government has already announced an $11 million program to help drought-stricken producers, including subsidies on freight and allowing livestock to graze in selected National Parks.
But negotiations on the $60 million Farm Finance deal from the Federal Government appear to have stalled, with Premier Campbell Newman describing it as a "dud deal".
Meanwhile, AgForce Queensland - the peak body for graziers - wants the deal done so farmers can be given some relief.
AgForce senior policy advisor Dr Dale Miller said there was a range of positives in the federal package, and the low-cost loans would be needed by some producers.
"We want to see a co-ordinated approach by both federal and state levels to debt and drought-related issues," Dr Miller said.
"They're too important to be subject to political point scoring."
Dr Miller said the state and federal governments were at a roadblock because neither wanted to cough up the administration costs to deliver the deal.
A lack of consultation from the Federal Government before announcing the planned rescue plan also meant it was taking longer to reach those who needed it.
Premier Newman said unless cows can eat debt, there was little use for Farm Finance.
"Farmers don't need more debt, cattle can't eat debt or loans, they need grass to eat," Mr Newman said in a radio interview.
"They need assistance on freight to get (cattle) to places like the national parks that were former grazing properties that we would like to put them in temporarily as a relief effort."
State Agriculture Minister John McVeigh has been negotiating with Federal counterpart Joe Ludwig.
Premier Newman said there was also $11 million available in the form of subsidies and grants for those suffering through the drought.
Mr Ludwig said this was no time for the State to consider walking away from the deal, one that could allow farmers to restructure their loans or build production.
"The Federal Government has been dealing in good faith with Queensland," he said.
"I'm seriously concerned that despite these discussions, Mr Newman's comments mean the Queensland Government might never support farmers by signing up to farm finance."