Local News

State Government doubles drought assistance


 The State Government has announced they will be doubling the drought assistance available to drought-stricken farmers across the state and here in the Upper Hunter.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair made the announcement in Dubbo this morning that the Farm Innovation Fund would be doubled with more loans available among the additions. 

The pre-budget announcement sees support boosted by $284 million bringing the cost of the whole package to over half a billion dollars.

Through the Farm Innovation Fund, farmers can now apply for 7-year interest-free loans of $50,000.

There are a number of other measures now in place including:

  • An additional $250 million in the Farm Innovation Fund, which:
                   - provides farmers with low-interest loans of up to $250,000 to improve farm
                    infrastructure and help farmers prepare for and deal with drought;
                    - introduces new loans of up to $50,000 that will be interest-free for seven years, to
                    allow producers to bring in fodder and grain, to move livestock, or install key water
                    infrastructure including troughs, underground pipes or water-saving technology;
  • New criteria in the Farm Innovation Fund which allows farmers to use the loans to “bio-bank” the genetics of their herd that would otherwise be lost during de-stocking;
  • Additional staff within the Department of Primary Industries to process and streamline Farm Innovation Fund applications;
  • More than $4 million in mental health support for communities facing natural disaster and drought including:
                   - Support for the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, including continued
                    funding for 13 statewide co-ordinators to link rural people to the help they need;
                    - Additional counselling support through funding for the National Association for
                    Loss and Grief, a Dubbo-based NGO.
  • New funding of $25 million to build and operate three new Doppler radar weather stations in the Central West and Far West to improve weather forecasting and help farmers make better business decisions;
  • A new kangaroo management plan to reduce kangaroo numbers in drought-hit areas, including:
                   - Removing the need for landholders to physically tag culled kangaroos;
                    - Removing the ‘shoot and let lie’ conditions to reduce bio-security risk;
                    - Expanding the commercial harvest zone for kangaroos in the South East of NSW;
                    - Connecting landholders experiencing high kangaroo numbers with commercial
                    harvesters through Local Land Services and other agencies.
  • Up to $5 million towards helping local councils repair dirt roads damaged by the temporary access for heavy vehicles carrying feed, water and livestock.

Almost all of NSW is suffering from the extended dry period with around 62 per cent of the state in drought or at the onset of drought. 

Contact details and more info:

Rural Assistance Authority: 1800 678 593 or www.raa.nsw.gov.au

Hunter LLS (02) 49 301 030 and www.hunter.lls.nsw.gov.au 

DroughtHub: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/climate-and-emergencies/droughthub 

Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse