NSW Farmers will ask the Federal Government for further assistance despite welcoming joint federal and state government bush fire recovery grants of up to $15,000 for farmers and small businesses.
NSW Farmers president James Jackson said the grants will provide some relief in the recovery effort, but the economic and mental health impact is much broader.
“These bush fires have dealt a devastating blow to around 4500 farm enterprises in the north of the state, who are already doing their best to sustain their businesses through one of the worst droughts on record.
“It’s been a real double hit that will test farmers and communities alike,” Mr Jackson said.
“The full extent of the impact to our farming and business sectors have not been fully realised yet as these bush fires continue to burn.
“Already it is estimated over 26,000 kilometres of perimeter fencing has been destroyed, which will cost around $300 million alone to replace.”
NSW Farmers said it will continue to work with the NSW Government to assess the full extent of the damage from the fires and to make a further case to the Federal Government for additional assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
Mr Jackson said the Federal Government has already delivered hardship payments and the NSW Government has stepped up to ensure fodder and water was made available as quickly as possible.
“Every little bit of support helps in some way.
“This latest announcement from the State and Federal Government does also including funding for mental health counselling services for victims and volunteers, which will be important,” he said.
“Farmers and community members affected by fires have been selfless – volunteering to fight fires, helping out at evacuation centres, and supporting those who have lost homes and infrastructure.
“They will need support once the crisis is over.”
“Stories of rural communities banding together to support each other have been inspiring, but like the drought recovery process, there will be challenges ahead and ongoing support from all levels of government will be needed.”