As dairy farmers continue to battle under the financial strain of the dairy crisis, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has explained the Federal Government's relief package has been delayed by Victorian Government administration.
Joyce and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with Murray Goulburn representatives on Tuesday morning in an attempt to find a solution to the dairy crisis sparked by the Australian milk processor slashing milk prices.
Soon after Murray Goulburn's price cut, New Zealand dairy company Fonterra followed suit.
The Coalition announced a $579 million support package for embattled dairy farmers during the election, but this week it was revealed only one farmer has received financial relief.
Retrospective price cuts have left many dairy farmers owing thousands to Murray Goulburn, and on Tuesday morning Joyce flagged repealing some of the debt while denying he would act as a "policeman".
"If we can discuss with them the return of money in such a way as Murray Goulburn is not put at peril of collapse, then of course that's what we're going to do," Joyce told reporters.
Many dairy farmers are now selling their cattle to the abattoirs, as their meat is more valuable than milk. Other farmers are selling up their farms completely.
Speaking on The 7:30 Report on Tuesday night, Joyce said the delays in administering financial support have been caused by slow state administration.
I believe they are taking vastly too long.Barnaby Joyce
"That is one of the reasons we are starting our own investment corporation within the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. What is happening is these are being administered by the Victorian government," Joyce told the program.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the Victorian government administrator takes double the processing time as Queensland, taking 47 to 25 day respectively.
"They have sold the rural finance corporation off, so it is a private organisation and basically they are utilising that for the assessment of facilities. I believe they are taking vastly too long," Joyce said.
"We have other applications that are under consideration there. They have got their drought loans going through. There should be a more immediate way but the government doesn't do the approval of loans. The Victorian government is responsible for that."
The discussions with Murray Goulburn representatives on Tuesday were the first of many talks expected to be had to help the dairy farming industry recover.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Joyce criticised Murray Goulburn, saying dairy farmers deserve transparency, which they did not receive when the company retrospectively dropped prices.
The Federal Government will consider the outcomes of ASIC and ACC investigations into Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.
Joyce and Turnbull will be meeting with Fonterra representatives next week while a meeting between representatives from the farming, processing and retail sectors will be led by Joyce on August 25.Suggest a correction