Where $500m in drought support was spent

DPI drought review of funding after $500m in support was paid out

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Getting agriculture in the fittest place to survive the next drought is important, NSW Farmers' president James Jackson says. Photo: Samantha Townsend

Getting agriculture in the fittest place to survive the next drought is important, NSW Farmers' president James Jackson says. Photo: Samantha Townsend

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With the drought easing in most parts of the state, the NSW Government is surveying farmers to see what drought assistance worked and what didn't.

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With the drought easing in most parts of the state, the NSW Government is surveying farmers to see what drought assistance worked and what didn't.

It comes as government figures obtained by The Land show that there were close to 10,000 approved applications totalling nearly $500 million in drought support for the 2020 calendar year.

Almost all have been paid out.

The most popular funding program, the drought transport subsidy saw 7237 approved applications paid out to a total of $327,444,560, while there were 1483 farmers approved for the emergency water infrastructure rebate scheme (EWIRS) to a total of $8,629,496.

This was before the EWIRS was put on hold due to the rebate being oversubscribed and money running out.

Related reading:Political games over emergency water infrastructure rebate scheme

In the breakdown, there were also 333 farmers approved for the farm innovation fund with $103,922,274 paid and 916 farmers approved for the drought assistance fund ($51,487,786).

Meanwhile, the seafood innovation fund loan saw 15 producers approved for $3,668,120.

NSW Farmers president James Jackson endorsed the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) survey saying it would highlight what worked and what hasn't worked.

Mr Jackson said the EWIRS and the farm innovation fund had been extremely successful drought programs.

"Getting agriculture in the fittest place to survive the next drought is important and some of these initiatives have been useful and will have lasting benefits in the future," Mr Jackson said.

DPI deputy director general Kate Lorimer-Ward said the drought assistance evaluation project aimed to improve service delivery and planning for future drought events.

"A rigorous evaluation of the support provided was always part of our process to ensure it was providing as much help as possible to the widest range of people," Ms Lorimer-Ward said.

"The feedback we get from farmers and community members will be critical in this process to ensure people are getting the very best service possible from government, and that government investment is delivering value for money."

The evaluation will focus on outcomes delivered, the process, as well as an economic evaluation of the farm innovation fund and the emergency drought transport subsidies.

Local Land Services has also played a significant role in in the past two years. In that time it conducted 5694 farm visits, conducted 27,387 support phone calls, and had 63,061 customer interactions.

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