AN 11th hour bid to secure carry-on finance for troubled Wheatbelt farmers this week has failed.
The proposal was discussed with Premier Colin Barnett on Tuesday and involved WAFarmers president Dale Park, the association's policy director Trevor Lovelle, PGA president Rob Gillam and vice president Tony Seabrook.
It is believed a proposal put to Mr Barnett asking for a $100/ha loan to allow affected farmers to put in a crop this month, was rejected out of hand.
Instead Mr Barnett and Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston today announced a $7.8 million support package for WA's most vulnerable farmers.
This fell a long way short of the $100m WAFarmers was seeking from the government to underwrite its proposed finance package.
"The Government is very optimistic about the future of farming in WA, but this package recognises that there are some in our farming community that are doing it tough," Mr Barnett said.
"The issue now is that some of those farms are struggling and others are simply not viable, and so the purpose of these support grants is to do what we can to help them through a difficult and challenging time in their lives."
State Cabinet has supported a three-part package which includes:
p $5 million to provide financial support of up to $25,000 to enable eligible farm businesses to operate this season
p $1.8m towards additional social support and rural counselling services in the Wheatbelt, including $300,000 for local governments to stage community events
p Exit grants of up to $20,000 towards living and transitional expenses for farmers who have owned their farm for at least five years and have net assets of no more than $450,000 after the sale
Mr Baston said the assistance package was drafted following consultation with farmers, farm businesses, industry groups, local government and rural lenders.
"Feedback from these groups is that the vast majority of our farming community is strong," he said.
"However, some farm businesses had been impacted by an unprecedented sequence of seasonal events, including droughts and frosts.
"This has led to exceptionally challenging financial circumstances for grain growers preparing to plant this year's crops, particularly in the Eastern Wheatbelt."
Mr Barnett said government and industry were also examining other measures to build the sustainability and profitability of farm businesses and the sector into the future, including market security, red tape reduction and crop insurance products.
Those involved in Tuesday morning's meeting were keen to see more detail on the package.
Mr Park said there wasn't a lot of detail given in the meeting as to what the programs would involve.
He said for some farmers it would mean they would only be putting in half a crop this year, while for others it meant they would have to walk off the land.
"I mean people need to be putting fertiliser on and it needs to be paid for and people need to be ready for seeding," he said.
"In a couple of weeks it will be too late.
"We have to recognise now that there are some people that are going to have to leave the land.
"It is a very harsh reality but that is what it is going to have to be."
Mr Gillam said he didn't think there was anything else the government could do.
"A rural adjustment has been going on for many years and it will continue to go on into the future," he said.
"The unfortunate thing is that some people will drop out of farming but I am sure he (Mr Barnett) will attempt to get the best deal for those people who get out of farming, but at the same time there will be some farmers who battle on because they have some degree of finance and I am sure if they are in very difficult circumstances so they will probably be able to access some support as well."