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Serious relief at last!

Serious relief at last!

The NSW Government has announced a new $500 million funding package to help farmers struggling through one of the worst droughts in recent years.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package on Monday while visiting a farm near Bathurst.

Ninety-nine per cent of the State is now in drought and 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, the Premier said.

“We have listened to farmers throughout NSW who have told me they urgently need help,” Ms. Berejiklian said.

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

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

The subsidies will 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.

“This means eligible farmers who made the decision to destock earlier this year will still benefit from this new relief package,” said Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro.

“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.”

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair also announced the waiving of 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.

A breakdown of the $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package:

  • 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
  • $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; animal welfare and stock disposal.

The NSW Rural Assistance Authority will begin processing applications from Monday August 6. 

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