A $500 million emergency drought relief package has been announced for farmers across NSW.
Each farmer will be able to claim a 50 per cent freight subsidy up to the value of $20,000. The program has been backdated to January 1, 2018. The subsidy can be used for transporting fodder, water for livestock as well as moving stock.
The government has also announced Local Land Service annual rates will be waived, along with fixed charges on water licences, registration costs for class one agricultural vehicles, and interest on existing Farm Innovation Fund loans.
The NSW Rural Assistance Authority will begin processing applications from Monday August 6.
Watch the press conference here:
Here’s the breakdown:
There will be approximately $190 million available for drought transport subsidies.
About $100 million will be directed toward cutting the cost of farming fees and charges. This includes waiving Local Land Services rates, waiving fixed water charges in rural and regional areas, and waiving class one agricultural vehicle registration costs.
The Farm Innovation Fund will receive an extra $150 million
There will also be 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.
Click here to find out more about the new measures.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government had listened to farmers, who were facing one of the driest winters on record.
She said this had resulted 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,” 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.”
A major announcement about drought support for farmers and rural communities will be made at 9.45am on Monday.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair will travel to Newbridge, 30 kilometres from Bathurst, to make the announcement.
The announcement was going to be made live via Facebook, but a lack of service at the farm prevented this plan.
Details about the announcement are expected to be sent in a media release shortly.
Rumours were rife over the weekend that the government would make a drought-support announcement on Monday.
It comes after Woolworths announced over the weekend that it would give $1.5 million to support drought-stricken farmers. It will give $1.2 million of this to the Buy A Bale campaign and put the extra $300,000 towards funding more counsellors through Rural Aid’s mental health program.
Ms Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro will then launch a comprehensive 20-year economic vision for regional NSW in Bathurst at 11am. This event has been in the diary for some time.
It comes as 99.8 per cent of the state is in affected by drought and fodder and water supplies are in decline. Conditions are so bad that long-term farming families are going to the wall.
The Mercury has been raising awareness about the drought since February. It also organised the launch of Buy A Bale campaigns across NSW, and in Queensland, with the help of sister mastheads and Macquarie Radio.
The Big Dry Drought Appeal continues to support farmers with hay, water and groceries.
Mr Blair recently told the Mercury that the situation goes well beyond the shortage of animal feed and there’s no doubt there will be flow-on effects for shoppers.
“This isn’t just about livestock, this is about everything from the poultry sector right through to our croppers – there are many different issues,” he said.
The extent of the drought is something we haven’t seen for some time. We are looking at every single industry and looking at how we can provide assistance without having a detrimental impact,NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair
“We are hopefully going to be as responsible as possible, we are considering everything and all options.
“We just don’t know when this will end and we need to be prepared for that.”
Mr Blair also revealed that the government was monitoring a range of prices.
“We’re monitoring everything from food prices to feed prices, and we won’t tolerate anyone trying to capitalise on anybody doing it tough and using the drought to hike up prices,” Mr Blair said.
“We’re working through a number of contingencies, there are some pretty critical moments ahead.
The government’s decision to provide more drought support comes after an extensive package of no-interest, and low-interest, loans were announced as part of the budget in mid June.