$18m dairy quota poser for Govt

31 Oct, 2001 10:00 PM
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THE effects of dairy deregulation continue to be felt with the State Government trying to find a way of allowing former quota holders access to a farm business grant without opening up payments to other farmers.

If this happens the potential cost could be $18m.

The grant was included in the previous State Government's $27m dairy deregulation assistance package that provided up to $21,000 to implement a new business plan.

However, Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said he understood the money was only intended for farmers operating a dairy farm and that quota lessors were excluded from the payments.

He said the lessors' case was that while they received compensation from the national dairy restructure package they were ruled out of receiving the State Government's dairy farm business grant.

Mr Chance said that if he was able to provide the money to former quota holders, the farmers who operated a dairy farm, and also leased quota, might then be able to apply for the grant twice. "That would create an $18m problem," he said.

"They (quota lessors) are clear what they want but it's whether there is sufficient money available to pay it."

He said the issue became more complicated by family members leasing quota to one another, with some having already received the farm business grant.

The State package, however, only provided for one payment per farm.

Shortly before deregulation the former Dairy Industry Authority indicated there were 127 quota lessors of which 55-60pc could be potentially leasing quota to family members, such as a son or a daughter.

"I'm sure if we narrow the group down to a small enough group of people the I'm sure we will probably find something," Mr Chance said.

"But if the pool becomes that everybody can get it then as soon as you say more than one payment can be made per farm they all might apply to get it.

"I have sought WAFarmers' assistance on trying to work our way through this and that's what our talk has largely been about.

"We are happy to work out way through that but so far we have not come up with a solution."

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