FLOOD-AFFECTED farmers in the Joel Joel area have rallied against the Federal Government after Prime Minister Julia Gillard rejected assistance grants worth up to $25,000.
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Farmers met with Northern Grampians Shire Council representatives during an emergency meeting in Joel Joel Hall on Wednesday night to discuss their next move.

Northern Grampians municipal recovery manager Greg Little said farmers were dismayed with the Prime Minister and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s reasoning that the submission did not demonstrate farmers would face long-term threats to viability because of the flood in December.

“The farmers want to join the council in a delegation to meet federal politicians and present their case,” Mr Little said. “The councillors at the meeting supported the idea.”

He said farmers wanted the Council of Australian Governments to reform the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, which determine grant guidelines.

“Farmers want clear-cut triggers for the $25,000 grants that are activated straight away, instead of having to wait months for an answer,” he said.

Mr Little said it was important farmers spoke directly with politicians.

“People can say on behalf of farmers that landholders have struggled,” he said. “But it’s not the same as a farmer who can talk about the state of his overdraft and debts and how tough it has been to keep his farm viable.

“Farmers are on the ropes, but they are not going to go down until their story is heard.”

Bulgana farmer Jon McMillan said he would spend years fixing flood damage on his property.

“The government is just searching for reasons not to pay us the grants,” he said. “It’s surprising, because it would not be a lot of money in the scheme of things.”

Mr McMillan said it would be tough convincing politicians to change their mind.

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