The NSW government has announced a $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package to help our struggling farmers. This package now takes the government’s drought support to more than $1 billion, with $584 million announced in June 2018.
With 99 per cent of the state in drought and farmers facing one of the driest winters on record, this package is essential not just for our farmers but the continued productivity of our regional communities.
The severity of the drought has resulted in failing crops, drastic water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain livestock. A major feature of this package is the introduction of transport subsidies, which recognises many people have been forced to cart fodder.
We will also backdate this measure to earlier in the year when we began to see conditions deteriorate.
As part of the emergency funding, waivers will apply on Local Land Services annual rates, fixed charges on water licences, registration costs for class 1 agricultural vehicles and interest for existing Farm Innovation Fund loans.
I still encourage people to access the Drought Assistance Loans which have now totalled more than $14 million in applications.
Emergency Relief Package support: Drought Transport Subsidies; (Subsidies will be backdated to include an additional prorated amount for expenses incurred in the previous six months. Up to 50 per cent of the full cost of transporting fodder, livestock to agistment, slaughter, sale and water for stock will be made available to eligible farmers); Waived Local Land Services annual rates, fixed water charges in rural and regional areas, as well as class 1 agricultural vehicle registration; Support services including counselling and mental health; Community assistance including water cartage and drought-related road infrastructure improvements; Animal welfare and stock disposal.
The government will also allocate an additional $150 million to the Farm Innovation Fund, reflecting significant uptake by farmers across the state.
The NSW Rural Assistance Authority began processing applications on Monday. For more information on the NSW Government’s emergency drought relief package visit: droughthub.nsw.gov.au.
Local support for farmers
It is wonderful to see so many local community organisations promoting innovative ways to raise money for our struggling farmers and a huge thank you to each of them for their support.
Our community is renowned for its generosity when others are facing difficult times and I am confident we will continue this kindness and compassion when it comes to our hard working men and women on the land.