Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC has welcomed today’s announcement by the Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister for Primary Industries of an additional $284 million in the NSW 2018 Budget to assist drought affected farmers, including those in the Hunter.
This brings the total drought relief package by the NSW Liberal National Government to over half a billion dollars.
The drought-relief package announced today includes:
- An additional $250 million in the Farm Innovation Fund, which provides farmers with low-interest loans of up to $250,000 to improve farm infrastructure and help farmers prepare for and deal with drought;
- New one-off loans of $50,000 as part of the Farm Innovation Fund that will be interest-free for seven years, to allow producers to bring in fodder and grain or install key water infrastructure.
- New criteria in the Farm Innovation Fund which allows farmers to use the loans to “bio-bank” the genetics of their herd that would otherwise be lost during de-stocking;
- A new kangaroo management plan to reduce kangaroo numbers in drought-hit areas, including:
- Removing the need for landholders to physically tag culled kangaroos;
- Removing the ‘shoot and let lie’ conditions;
- Expanding the commercial harvest zone for kangaroos in the South East of NSW;
- Enabling more shooters to operate under each licence
- Connecting landholders with commercial harvesters.
- More than $4 million in mental health support specifically targeting drought-affected communities including:
- Support for the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, including continued funding for 13 statewide co-ordinators to link rural people to the help they need.
- Additional counselling support through funding for the National Association for Loss and Grief, a Dubbo-based NGO.
"It is important farmers don't self-assess their eligibility,” Mr MacDonald said.
“They should talk to their Local Land Services or Rural Assistance Authority. RAA can be contacted on 1800 678 593 or website www.raa.nsw.gov.au. Hunter LLS can be contacted (02) 4930 1030 and www.hunter.lls.nsw.gov.au.”