NSW Farmers welcomes feds drought package

NSW Farmers today welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a $320 million drought package that will be available to farmers in NSW. 

Along with other states and the National Farmers Federation, NSW Farmers has been working for a number of years on federal drought policy. 

NSW Farmers President Fiona Simson said: “With the extremely harsh summer and dramatic increase in the area of NSW in drought, we put a package to the federal government asking for a number of measures to be implemented immediately.” 

“It is very encouraging that the federal government has taken this message on board and made a decision and acted quickly,” she said.

“We estimate that drought is affecting 60 percent of NSW and that this is increasing. Recent reports reveal that the drought is spreading with farmers in the Balranald area in the south west of the state also experiencing drought.”

Sarah Thompson Chair of NSW Farmers Rural Affairs Committee said the increase in the cap for debt refinancing to $1 million at a 4 percent interest rate would provide relief for farmers from interest rate burdens. 

“The more generous criteria for accessing income support sounds encouraging but we are yet to see the details,” she said.

“We are seeking farm assets to be excluded as was the case under exceptional circumstances. These assets determine the future income generating capacity of a farm and will assist farmers recover from drought. 

“NSW Farmers is also pleased the federal government is allocating $10.7 million to social and mental health services, extending the water infrastructure grants and also providing a $10 million pest management program. 

“We have seen disturbing pictures where hundreds of wild pigs are feeding on grain provided as drought feed for sheep and competing for water,” Ms Thompson said.

NSW Farmers is also encouraged the federal government has chosen measures that do not rely on boundaries so that assistance is available to all those suffering drought.

Ms Simson said: “One of the problems we have at the state level is that some areas are given access to support and others miss out. This is perplexing for farmers and adds to their stress during an already stressful time.”

“Farmers are facing some of the toughest climatic conditions for over 60 years. To their credit they have been preparing and managing through this drought for more than 12 months,” she concluded. 

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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