February 19, 2008

Australia's federal government has approved a $1 billion emergency funding package for drought-stricken farmers and those affected by equine influenza.

Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said the funding was urgently needed to ensure farmers and those in the horse industry continued to receive support.

The total package of $A1.052 billion is outlined in two appropriation bills passed yesterday, including:

The equine influenza assistance has been extended for those in restricted zones until March 14 or until movement restrictions are lifted.

"This additional funding delivers on the Government's commitment to continue to assist farmers, small businesses and communities affected by the drought," Mr Burke said.

"It will allow payments to continue under demand-driven drought assistance programmes.

"Similarly, the devastating impact of equine influenza has affected many horse breeders, trainers and the wider commercial horse industry.

"The Rudd Government has honoured its commitment to assist individuals and businesses whose primary source of income has been affected as a result of equine influenza.

"This package of funding will ensure demand-driven payments continue, including the Commercial Horse Assistance Package and the Business Assistance Grant."