The NSW Government's new $310 million drought package officially kicks in today to deliver additional assistance to farmers still battling drought, while helping accelerate the recovery for those experiencing a reprieve in conditions.
So far more than 21,586 applications have been approved since 2018 through the Drought Assistance Fund (DAF) and Emergency Drought Transport Subsidy (DTS), which has paid out more than $300 million.
Under the new expanded package, the cap for the DAF would increase from $50,000 to $100,000 per eligible primary producer, which will give farmers access to interest-free cash, with a payback period of seven years, of which they pay nothing in the first two years.
Primary producers can now also claim the cost of transporting restockers, from point of purchase to their property, under the DTS program.
Previously this was restricted to the transport of fodder, water and livestock to slaughter and agistment.
"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," Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall told The Land.
Mr Marshall said they had made a number of adjustments to the new package to ensure it reflected the evolving needs of farmers, particularly as some parts of the state entered drought recovery.
"One of the challenges faced by many farmers as they enter recovery is the cost associated with re-stocking," he said.
"The criteria has also been expanded so farmers recovering from drought can use this cash to purchase restockers or, for croppers, to cover any costs associated with replanting.
"I have always said our drought package will continue to evolve to meet the needs of farmers and changing conditions. That's exactly what this new package and these changes to DTS and the DAF seek to achieve."
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said it was undisputed that farmers had battled through unprecedented droughts, floods, bushfires and now COVID-19, and while they were resilient, their ability to weather this compounding storm was becoming harder.
"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," Mr Barilaro said.
What you can expect
The new package includes:
- $116 million to continue the Drought Transport Subsidy through the calendar year (pro rata cap of $25,000 per primary producer);
- $99 million in cost of living pressure relief, including Local Lands Services rates, vehicle registration waivers etc.;
- $28.5 million to continue water licence fee waivers for stock, domestic, general and high security water users;
- Continuation of health and well-being programs (Farmgate Counsellors, Royal Flying Doctors Far West drought support programs).