Drought assistance has been given a boost from both the State and Federal Governments.
The NSW Government is delivering a new $310 million drought assistance package which includes key changes to better support primary producers looking to restock or sow.
The changes include lifting the cap for the Drought Assistance Fund (DAF) to $100,000 per eligible primary producer and extending the Drought Transport Subsidy to cover the cost of transport for restocking.
“It is undisputed that our farmers in regional NSW have battled through unprecedented droughts, floods, bushfires and now COVID-19 and whilst they are resilient, their ability to weather this compounding storm is becoming harder and harder,” Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.
“That is why this government has sought to deliver drought assistance that provides ongoing support to farmers still battling drought, while helping to accelerate recovery for producers who have seen conditions improve."
“Increasing the cap of the DAF by $50,000 for this financial year paves the way for primary producers, who were approaching the threshold, to continue vital works that will improve the sustainability and profitability of their businesses, such as restocking.”
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the expansion of these support packages would help farmers who are in a position to look towards drought recovery.
“Anyone who thinks the drought is over has rocks in their head, hence why we have put additional cash on the table to continue to support our State’s farmers and also help those who are on the road to recovery,” Adam Marshall said.
“This boost means primary producers can now use the DTS to help cover the costs of transporting livestock for restocking purposes."
“At the same time, let’s not forget that more than 85 per cent of the state is still in drought, so for those yet to receive good rain, we are continuing to support you and we’ll help you get through this.”
Under the DAF, farmers can access up to $100,000 for any activity that promotes on-farm profitability, including restocking.
Under the DTS eligible farmers can access subsidies to cover the cost of transport of fodder, water and stock and other farm inputs, like chemical or seed. A pro rata rate of $25,000 per primary producer will apply to the DTS, which will expire at the end of the year.
To find out more about the eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit the RAA website https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/ or call 1800 678 593.
Meantime the Federal Government has invested $3.9 billion, which will grow to $5 billion, in the forward-thinking Future Drought Fund.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said this long-term, sustainable investment will make $100 million available each year to help our farmers and communities become more prepared for, and resilient to, the impacts of drought.
“Drought is an enduring feature of the Australian landscape. It has economic, environmental and social impacts on our farmers, communities and landscape,”
“I’m excited to announce the Future Drought Fund’s programs are starting to roll out from July 2020."
“These programs will give farmers and communities the tools they need to prepare for, manage and sustain their livelihoods during droughts."
“The programs have been developed based on expert advice from the independent Consultative Committee, led by Mr Brent Finlay, a fourth generation farmer, as well as valuable input from communities and industry during last year’s national public consultation tour on the Drought Resilience Funding Plan."
Further details on each program will be available as implementation arrangements are finalised at http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/future-drought-fund
The eight programs, totalling $89.5 million, are:
- The $20m Farm Business Resilience program will provide farm businesses with training to strengthen their strategic business management skills and develop a farm business plan to build risk management capacity and drought resilience.
- The $10m Climate Services for Agriculture program will fund the development and delivery of interactive digital ‘climate information services’ for the agriculture sector to assist farmers to make real-time decisions.
- The $3m Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool will provide an online self-assessment tool for farmers to self-identify drought risks based on a range of social, economic and environmental indicators, and take action to build the drought resilience of their farm business.
- The $20.3m Drought Resilience Research and Adoption program will establish two regionally located Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs, and Innovation Grants will become available to research organisations, private sector, industry, not-for-profit organisations and community groups.
- The $15m Natural Resource Management (NRM) Drought Resilience program will fund regional NRM bodies to undertake projects to build drought resilience of natural resources on agricultural landscapes, and there will also be grants available to organisations, farmer groups and individuals to undertake NRM projects to build the drought resilience of natural resources on small scales.
- The $3.75m Networks for Building Drought Resilience program will support community-driven projects that enhance drought resilience and strengthen networks, including small-scale infrastructure projects to make community facilities drought resilient.
- The $7.45m Drought Resilience Leaders program will develop leadership capability in communities and include a mentoring component to foster uptake of innovative practices to build drought resilience of farmers and their businesses.
- The $10m Regional Drought Resilience Planning will provide funding to consortia of local councils or equivalent entities to develop Regional Drought Resilience Plans for agriculture and allied industries.
Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse