Nearly two years since prolonged floods impacted their milk production on the South Coast, dairy farmers Justin and Libby Walsh are almost back on track.
Having access to disaster recovery assistance not only helped the Walsh family recover quicker after a battering from flood after flood but they were also able to 'change their business for the better'.
The Walshs are among the 13,828 primary producers that have accessed assistance from the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) this year where more than $1 billion has been approved for loans, grants, subsidies and rebates.
"We would be further behind if we didn't have the financial assistance," Mr Walsh said, who milks 360 head at Jaspers Brush near Nowra.
"We have certainly recovered quicker and we didn't have to sell off cows during the floods as we were able to feed and not have to reduce numbers.
"Now we are back to relatively normal, we are at 95 per cent of where we should be."
Mr Walsh, a fourth generation dairy farmer, took over the family farm from his parents in 2016. Since then he has set about expanding the operation but needed to overcome many hurdles along the way.
Like most farmers across the state they have experience drought and in contrast extremely wet conditions at their farm.
In 2022 from March to November there were four flood events and it was continually wet.
They had pasture and stock losses and were down 30 per cent in milk production.
"We have been through floods before and the farm is prone to flooding so we are aware of the risk but we have never experienced that length of time, it was not something we were prepared for as we have never seen anything like it," he said.
By accessing disaster recovery financial assistance as well as the farm innovation loan through the NSW RAA, they have recovered and have become more productive, sustainable and viable.
'We used the money for repairs to infrastructure and fodders, which was the main areas where it went," he said.
They used the innovation loan to upgrade lane-ways and fencing on the farm.
In the breakdown throughout 2023, the NSW RAA has administered 14 natural disaster recovery programs approving more than $900.2 million in natural disaster grants, loans and subsidies, disbursing more than $717.2m in payments to 14,535 individuals, businesses and not-for-profit organisations.
For industry assistance programs assistance including programs for Varroa mite response, the NSW sheep and goat electronic identification scheme, the Farms of the Future Grant as well as the Commonwealth government's horticultural netting program trial there were 4,087 applications, with more than $29.8m disbursed.
On December 1, the NSW government opened the Drought Ready and Resilient Fund for applications., which offers low interest loans to farm businesses for a broad range of purchases, activities and services to assist with responding to and managing the ongoing impacts of drought.
In addition, the RAA also administers the Drought Infrastructure Fund (formerly known as the Farm Innovation Fund) and the Seafood Innovation Fund loans, in which there were 308 loan applications approved to the value of more than $116.4m.
Throughout the year, more than $78.1 million has been disbursed for loan products.