Supporting Victorian Farmers Through Tough Times
The Andrews Labor Government has secured the future of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), ensuring farming families and Victoria’s rural and regional communities continue to receive support during hardship.
Visiting the RFCS office in Leongatha today, Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, said the $1.54 million in funding in the 2015-16 Victorian Budget would help to ensure the service is continued for those in need.
The RFCS is a national program that provides free financial counselling to farmers and small rural businesses suffering financial hardship and with no alternative source of impartial support.
Since 2008, the RFCS has assisted an average of 2,800 farm businesses per year to effectively manage change, empowering them to develop options and business plans in the face of complex and difficult circumstances.
The RFCS has helped to deliver on Victorian Government recovery packages for severe disasters and economic shocks, such as the millennium drought, 2010-11 floods and the Goulburn Valley fruit industry downturn.
The Gippsland RFCS is just one of five regionally based service providers in Victoria, employing 35 full time and part-time rural financial counsellors in 19 locations across Victoria.
The former Labor Government introduced a Senior Rural Finance Counsellor in each of the five services in 2008, with Victoria the only state that continues to fund these ongoing roles.
In addition to providing funding to ensure the RFCS can continue its work, the Budget also provided $4 million to save the National Centre for Farmer Health and help rebuild it after the former Coalition Government nearly destroyed it.
The RFCS is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and state governments. The Labor Government will work to ensure the RFCS program continues to deliver critical services to farmers in the next funding round from 1 January 2016.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford
“We’re putting the health and well-being of our farming families first by continuing to deliver much needed support through the Rural Financial Counselling Service and saving the National Centre for Farmer Health.
“Victorian agriculture production contributes $11.8 billion to the Victorian economy. For food and fibre production to grow, we need to give our farmers the support they deserve during times of need.”
“The Labor Government is proud to be the only state to provide dedicated funding for Senior Rural Finance Counsellors.”
15 May 2015