Up to 20,000 farmers hit by bushfires around the country have been offered grants of $75,000 to help them recover.
The Federal Government today announced the grants, similar to those given to flood-hit farmers in Queensland last year.
The relief funds can be used to fix many types of farm infrastructure including fences, solar panels and also for paying vets, disposal of dead stock and infrastructure damaged by the fires.
The eligibility rules are being finalised, but Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie promised they would not be onerous in an effort to get relief money to farmers as quickly as possible.
Mrs McKenzie said all types of farmers had been hurt by the fires from oyster farmers, to beef and sheep producers, apiarists, horticulture and viticulture by fires in most states. It is estimated Australia may have lost up to 1 per cent of its national beef herd in the fires. The total wool clip is also expected to be cut.
She said some farmers had lost all their herd while they fought as volunteer firemen to save Victorian towns such as Walwa.
She also promised there would be further announcements to support towns hit hard by the loss of forest resources such as Tumut, Tumbarumba, Eden and in east Gippsland.
She applauded milk processors for sticking by dairy farmers who could not get product out, still delivering milk cheques.
The relief money is being paid out of the $2 billion fire recovery fund announced recently by the Federal Government.
Prime Minster Scott Morrison said the category D assistance was made to get farmers back into production. "We need the cash in the hands of these producers so they can get on with the jobs that urgently need doing," he said.
more to come