Government announces new drought support package

The new drought support package will boost the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF), remove barriers in transport subsidies and reduce paperwork for farmers.

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced the drought assistance package today, June 11, which includes $350 million for the FIF.

Drought assistance package: Farmers can now apply for loans of up to $1 million. Photo: Jake Heinemann.

Drought assistance package: Farmers can now apply for loans of up to $1 million. Photo: Jake Heinemann.

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Farmers will now be able to access loans up to $1 million for infrastructure projects, increased from up to $250,000, to ensure farmers will outlast a drought.

Some examples of eligible projects include the construction of fodder storage facilities (silos, hay sheds), containment lots, water supply infrastructure or improvements including de-silting of water storage.

Mr Marshall, in a statement, "All existing FIF customers and applicants who submit an application before June 30, 2020, will have interest charges for the financial year 2019-20 waived."

The government will also remove distance caps on transport subsidies.

Eligible farm businesses can access up to $40,000 for the transport of stock, fodder and water. This subsidy can cover 50 per cent of the full cost of freight up to a maximum of $5 per kilometre (plus GST)

"With ongoing dry conditions landholders are having to look further afield to source much needed fodder to keep their stock alive. This can be an expensive exercise and that's why the NSW Government is tipping in cash to reduce the cost for farmers and removing any kilometre barriers that previously existed," Mr Marshall said.

The government also announced that there will be less paperwork for farmers, "streamlining the application process". There will be no new paperwork for people who have already accessed drought assistance.

As well as this, the government has waived $100 million of rates to ease the cost of living pressure and help cash flow. Rates that have been waived by the government include Local Land Services rates, FIF interest fees, and apiary and wild dog border fence rates, as well as fixed water charges in rural and regional areas.

There will also be $15 million for emergency water relief available to Local Water Utilities for the cost of water carting during emergency periods.

Rural Financial Advisor Beverly Houterman said, "the Rural Assistance Authority has been of such great assistance over this drought period and the new funding announced will be very welcome to farmers.

"The key for farmers is not to self-assess, as they often can get significant assistance if they apply," Ms Houterman advised.

Drought assistance package

  • Boosting the Farm Innovation Fund - $350 million
  • Reducing fees and charges - $100 million
  • Transport subsidies - $70 million
  • Emergency water carting - $15 million