Three submissions don’t warrant change for drought plan

FARMERS will be referred to outside organisations as part of a local council’s drought plan.

The document was drawn up following a community forum where livestock owners told the council how they could better assist them in the drought.

But despite a draft copy of the plan being publicly available since October, only three farmers made submissions for the plan.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council adopted the draft plan unchanged, after it found none of the submissions warranted action.

From the four submissions received, one was from Member for Wright Scott Buchholz, and only one of the three submissions from farmers included any comments for council action.

In recommending the action plan be adopted unchanged, community development and engagement officer Neil Williamson said “it is considered that the submissions received do not recommend any changes to the draft”.

The action plan includes six key areas, with the majority of actions centring on council “promoting” contact information of charities and government agencies who can assist farmers.

Mr Williamson said sections of the plan were the responsibility of state and federal governments, and the council could only act as an advocate for farmers.

“I believe council has a very strong role to play, and that is that advocacy and promotional level and it is something we can absorb within our existing operations,” Mr Williamson said.

The council will also take some proactive measures itself, including assisting farmers to pay their rates by extending discount periods and deferring interest.

The council will also continue to liaise with drought support agencies to co-ordinate their approach to the ongoing drought, as well organising for agencies to attend community events to provide better points of contact with the community.

Mr Williamson said this was already occurring at local cattle sales and other events to great success.

“It’s a soft entry point, people don’t feel pressured,” he said.

Councillor Rick Vela was also impressed with the initiative, which he said boosted the farming communities’ awareness of what support was available to them.

“When one person accesses information, they do talk to one another,” Cr Vela said.

Councillor Janice Holstein said the plan and the earlier community forum had been positive, and the council was working to do what it could to support farmers.

“I think council is doing all that we possibly can with what we are able to do,” Cr Holstein said.

The progress of the plan will be documented on a quarterly basis.

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