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NSW Premier announces $500m drought subsidies package

Sheep Central, July 30, 2018

NSW drought subsidies to cover half of feed transportation costs.

A $500 million emergency drought relief package announced by New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian today has been welcomed by farmers.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said farmers are facing one of the driest winters on record, resulting in failing crops, drastic water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain livestock.

“We have listened to farmers throughout NSW who have told me they urgently need help.

“To date we have already committed $584 million in drought support, most of which is focused on preparation for drought conditions,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“However, conditions are now so dire that further support is needed to address the more immediate needs for farmers and their communities until the drought breaks.”

The major elements of the package are:

  • About $190 million for drought transport subsidies
  • About $100 million for cutting the cost of farming fees and charges – by waiving Local Land Services rates, waiving fixed water charges in rural and regional areas, and waiving class one agricultural vehicle registration costs, among other initiatives, and
  • $150 million to bolster the Farm Innovation Fund infrastructure program;

The package also includes funding for counselling and mental health, critical services in regional communities including transporting water and drought related road upgrades and repairs, and animal welfare and stock disposal.

About 99 percent of the state is now in drought and deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said this has quickly worsened because June and July were drier than expected, and farmers have been forced to source fodder from interstate as local supply has deteriorated.

The subsidies will be able to cover up to 50 percent of the full cost of transporting fodder, water for stock and livestock to pasture, slaughter or sale. The NSW Government will offer a transport subsidy of up to $20,000 per farm business. The relief measure will also be back-dated so farmers can access additional subsidies for freight expenses incurred since January 1, 2018.

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair reiterated his commitment to standing side by side with farmers during the worsening drought.

“As part of the emergency funding I am pleased to announce waivers on Local Land Services annual rates, fixed charges on water licences, registration costs for class one agricultural vehicles, and interest on existing Farm Innovation Fund loans,” Mr Blair said.

“We know many families are also having to bring in water for domestic use, which is why we have also set aside additional funding for this essential service.”

Package must be accessible – NSW Farmers

NSW Farmers’ president James Jackson has described the additional $500 million in support as ‘generous’, but has stressed the importance of the package being easily accessible to all farmers across the state battling drought.

“The expansion of the drought transport subsidies to cover a range of transport activities recognises that good animal welfare practice covers a variety of activities and requires long-term planning.

“The decision to provide back payments to 1 January recognises that planning for drought happens before the country is dry,” he said.

“It’s not only the big costs that affect farm business cash flow.

“It is the small, ongoing commitments that add up,” Mr Jackson said.

“The commitment to provide relief through deferring LLS rate payments, water licenses and agricultural vehicle registration will benefit local communities and contractors, not only farmers.

“NSW Farmers has been a strong advocate for the farm Innovation Fund. It has helped farmers to prepare for drought, through the cessation of interest payments on existing loans, as well as future loans, the government has recognised that there is only so much you can do to prepare,” he said.

“As farmers continue to make tough decisions, we call on the NSW Government to make it equitable and as easy as possible for them to access relief.”

The NSW Rural Assistance Authority will begin processing applications from Monday 6 August. For more information on the NSW Government’s emergency drought relief package visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au

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Comments

  1. Jennifer Macdougall, July 30, 2018

    When will the NSW and the Federal Government realise that NSW is facing an emerging livestock catastrophe. In 60 years, I have never seen a drought where there was so little ground cover over such a vast area and one does not have to travel far to see that livestock are fast approaching a condition where they will be unmovable, let alone unsaleable. Freight subsidies to move stock to agistment? There is no agistment. Fodder freight subsidy? Where is the fodder? And when farmers are now being charged $250 for one large square bale — if they can get it — will simply see them go broke.
    The Federal Government and the state have been far too slow off the block. This drought set in over a year ago, not just due to a dry autumn and winter this year. With no end in sight, a catastrophe will be an inadequate word to describe what is unfolding and if spring rains fail as predicted. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land are ploughed and bare of crops, and crops that even if they had gotten up would have failed. These would have in past droughts been available to be grazed.
    If the predictions are right, that this could go on into the autumn, then God help us all. But the federal and the state governments have to have a plan as to how the eastern national herd and flocks that do survive will be kept alive — not sit on their hands and react as they so often do when it is far too late. It is almost too late now.
    Where is the fodder to come from? Are there sufficient reserves in WA and even in the Ord that could be shipped across in a national plan by the government to save the breeding herds and flocks?
    This drought demands a national approach, and urgently. We just cannot sit by and wait and watch spring rains fail. I have just driven 600kms, and to see sheep lambing in bare paddocks, cattle in poor condition on bare ground tells me we are facing a livestock disaster – with all the attendant stress on animals and farmers. Fixing drought-affected roads will not feed anything. Spend the money on hay and grain; that, and the lack of it, is the cost that is crippling farmers.

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