There was some relief for farmers over the weekend with reports of rainfall ranging from 12 to 22 millimetres, depending on which storm cloud you were under (officially it was 15.4mm).
Unless there’s a lot of follow-up rain and temperatures remain mild, however, winter feed shortages loom.
MP Thomas George has announced the timely creation of a new drought assistance measure that will help farmers to sustain livestock through the dry conditions.
The NSW Drought Transport Fund will provide up to $20,000 in low interest loans, with a two-year interest and repayment free period, to help farmers pay freight costs for fodder, water, or to move stock to agistment.
“On my recent travels throughout the Tenterfield shire, I have seen first-hand the impacts that the dry conditions are having on our farmers and their families,” Mr George said.
“The costs of transporting fodder, water, or to move stock is crippling our farmers, as more than a quarter of the state is struggling with drought or conditions approaching it, including the Hunter, the Central Tablelands and Central West and in the far west of the state.
“That’s why the NSW Government has created this new support measure.”
The NSW Drought Transport Fund will form part of the wider NSW Drought Strategy, which includes the Farm Innovation Fund for on-farm infrastructure improvement and drought preparedness work. To date the fund has approved more than $200 million in low interest loans to farm businesses throughout NSW.
“Our farmers are the lifeblood of this electorate and when they are struggling, the whole community is impacted,” Mr George said.
“The application process for the NSW Drought Transport Fund will be streamlined, via the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA), to make it easier for our farmers.
“I encourage the regions primary producers to visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au to view the full range of assistance measures available.”
The cost of transporting stock, fodder or water outside of NSW is eligible. Other eligibility criteria include that
- the owners and operators of the business earn more than 50 per cent of their gross income from the primary production enterprise;
- the business is being negatively impacted by drought conditions which is assessed, by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority;
- the business is in financial need by either being in receipt of a Farm Household Allowance or being an eligible client of the Rural Financial Counselling service;
- the business can support the loan repayments;
- the owners and operators of the business do not have gross off-farm assets exceeding $1,000,000; and
- a Risk Management Plan for the business must be provided with the application or within six months after loan approval.