Monday, 30 July 2018

State Government commits $1 billion to help farmers in need

NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall warmly welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement today of an additional $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package, taking the government’s total drought support to more than $1 billion.

Importantly, primary producers across the region and the state have been heard, according to Mr Marshall, with the centrepiece of the package being the return of transport subsidies and the waiving of fees and charges.

Mr Marshall raised his concerns about the fast deteriorating conditions on behalf of farmers in the region last week and called for immediate action to support farmers during what he called a ‘desperate and debilitating drought’.

“This current drought is unprecedented in living memory and it is not isolated, it hasn’t discriminated and the entire state is declared to be in drought,” Mr Marshall said.

“Absolutely, it is a dire situation and I am thrilled and relieved in equal parts that the NSW Government has acted to provide a tangible and accessible lifeline for farmers.

“It’s a long way out of drought and I am sure the availability of a transport subsidy of up to $20,000 per farm business – backdated to 1 January, 2018, will provide some peace of mind, as will cutting farming fees, vehicle rego and other charges.

“Our farmers are the lifeblood of regional community’s and this assistance will go a long way to rebuilding confidence and reaching out to those doing it so tough.”

The major feature of the Emergency Relief Package is approximately $190 million for the introduction of Drought Transport Subsidies.

The subsidies will be able to cover up to 50 per cent 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.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said this drought has quickly worsened across the state because June and July were drier than expected, and farmers have been forced to source fodder from interstate as local supply has deteriorated.

“We said we would constantly reassess the conditions and relief measures, and the fact we’ve now increased our drought-relief package to over $1 billion is a reflection of how serious this drought is, and how much we value the health and wellbeing of our farming and regional communities,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Importantly, we have backdated this relief measure to the start of the year when the drought intensified, especially in the Upper Hunter and Western NSW.

“This means eligible farmers who made the decision to destock earlier this year will still benefit from this new relief package.”

The three major elements of the $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package are:
• Approximately $190 million for Drought Transport Subsidies;
• Approximately $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 (FIF) 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.

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 or call 1800 678 593.

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