Friday, 31 July 2020
Media release

Joint media release with the Hon. Lisa Neville MP - Further Support for Primary Producers and Small Businesses in Bushfire Communities Victoria

Primary producers impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires will benefit from expanded eligibility for the $75,000 disaster recovery grant and timeframe changes announced by the Federal and Victorian Government today, with small businesses also given more time to request support.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said that the changes will increase grant eligibility for primary producers as well as increase the time they have to apply for assistance.

“We received feedback, we have listened and we have adjusted the approach.  We are regularly talking with industry groups and the state governments to ensure our assistance is available to those most in need” Minister Littleproud said.

“These changes and the decision to extend the application timeframes to December 2020 recognises that some primary producers have experienced drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, and need more time to make a claim. We have also extended the timeframes for other small business bushfire recovery grants and loans.

“This decision also highlights the level of understanding by Federal and State agencies that the recovery journey is different for everyone and some may not be as progressed on their journey as others,” said Minister Littleproud

Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville said the time extension and eligibility changes would give more Victorians opportunities for financial assistance.

“We’re pleased primary producers and small business owners in East Gippsland and North East Victoria have more time and a clearer pathway to access this funding. Recovering after the summer bushfires is a long term process with no short cuts, and these changes will help affected primary producers and business owners to rebuild and re-establish their enterprise,” Minister Neville said.

The primary producers grant provides support to farmers and other primary production businesses in fire affected areas with the costs of such services as safety inspections, veterinary fees, waste disposal, equipment purchases or repairs to property or equipment damaged in the fires.

Key eligibility changes include:

  • Removal of the off-farm income threshold where an applicant’s income from primary production is less than 50 per cent of their total income.
  • Allowing extra time for applicants to reach the 50 per cent income threshold in recognition of long lead times required by some sectors to reach full production.
  • Applicants are no longer required to be registered for GST but must still hold an ABN.
  • Businesses earning more than 50 per cent of their income from a combination of primary production and goods made directly from that produce will now be eligible for assistance.

These changes will come into effect shortly. Applicants who were previously unsuccessful and may now be eligible will not need to reapply - agencies administering the grants will contact these applicants.  

Applications for small business assistance in the form of $10,000 and $50,000 grants and concessional loans of up to $500,000 can now also be made up to 31 December 2020.

Primary producers and small business operators in fire affected areas that have not been in touch with support agencies are encouraged to not self-assess and to speak to a support officer.

The grants are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Government.

Further details are available here.