Additional drought support welcome
NSW Farmers’ Association is pleased to see the federal government announcing additional funding and new initiatives as part of its drought support package for farmers and regional communities.
The majority of last week’s $250 million announcement is made up of low-interest loans aimed at encouraging farmers to invest in onfarm infrastructure to improve storage facilities such as silos and hay sheds, as well as new taxation measures allowing farmers to claim costs of expanding fodder storage after one year, instead of having to wait three years. The additional package includes: An increase in low interest loans from $1 million to $2 million per farming enterprise to improve feed storage infrastructure through the Regional Investment Corporation.
Accelerated depreciation provisions for fodder infrastructure that will allow farmers to claim tax write offs after one year instead of three.
$155 million for local government projects including $1 million each to 36 Councils across NSW
$72 million for a special drought round of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.
$37 million for new bores across the southeast region of the Great Artesian Basin;
$2.7 million for enhanced long term weather forecasting.
Additional staffing to fast track Farm Household Allowance applications.
President of NSW Farmers’ James Jackson said the announcement recognises the challenges farmers face accessing water and fodder.
“It is good to see that the Australian Government will underwrite local councils to provide access to water, which a number have already commenced in response to NSW Farmers’ local advocacy,” Jackson said.
“The increase from $1million to $2million for low interest loans will help farmers to increase on-farm infrastructure to store the grain and fodder generously provided through community appeals.
“However, while low interest loans are helpful, there is a limit to the amount of debt that farm businesses can carry and still be in a viable position to fund the costs of restocking and replanting when the drought breaks.
“NSW Farmers calls on the Australian Government to defer both loan interest and principle repayments until it rains, as has been announced by the NSW Government for loans under the Farm Innovation Fund.
“All measures that recognise farmers are business people are welcome. Most are managing cash flows with costs outweighing receipts, and the accelerated depreciation will be of help.
“It is hoped that the additional funding for local government water projects, the drilling of bores, and the $72 million for the National Water Infrastructure Fund will also provide much needed support for local employment and regional businesses who are also facing challenging times.
“The additional funding for long term forecasting will be of benefit, but until it rains, farmers will continue to focus on maintaining the welfare of their core breeding stock and ensuring there is adequate moisture to maintain planting and horticulture activities,” Mr Jackson concluded.
The new federal government drought assistance includes an increase low interest loans from $1 million to $2 million per farming enterprise to improve feed storage infrastructure. Crop and livestock farmer Wayne Dunford loads a feeder with grain feed for sheep at Lynton Station west of Parkes last Monday, August 13. New South Wales has been declared 100% drought affected. Photo AAP.