Regional farmers are set to benefit from a waiving of Local Land Services rates and fixed charges for NSW Water Licences under a new $355 million drought support package.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the announcement at Coolamon yesterday when launching the extra emergency support for drought affected farmers.
As the drought continues to bite in areas of the Narrandera Shire, local farmers will also benefit from a transport subsidy of up to $40,000 per eligible farm business. The subsidy can cover 50 per cent of the full cost of freight up to a maximum of $5 per kilometre (+GST), with no maximum or minimum distance caps on transport subsidy claims.
A total of $10 million has been earmarked for waiving interest charges for Farm Innovation Fund loans and $15 million for emergency water carting. The economic stimulus package includes up to $120 million to fast track identified major infrastructure projects, such as regional airport upgrades, and a $1.97 million boost towards the Coolamon Industrial Estate development.
Ms Berejiklian said the package would fund many critical town water projects as well as other shovel-ready infrastructure projects to stimulate local economies.
“The impact of this drought has spread quickly off farm and is now being felt by businesses and households in towns and cities across regional NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said. “When farmers can’t contract tradies and other workers, there is a flow on effect felt throughout local businesses such as cafes and local stores. This funding package will support these rural communities in their time of need.”
Examples of shovel ready projects that could be funded by the stimulus package include regional airport upgrades, activation of industrial lands and CBD revitalisation projects. Ms Berejiklian was joined in Coolamon by Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall.
Mr Barilaro said the NSW Government was continuing to stand shoulder to shoulder with farmers and their communities battling the drought.
“The lack of rain on farm is having a devastating flow on effect in regional businesses,” Mr Barilaro said. “Every dollar spent by farmers at their local store helps keep someone employed in that business and a family in town.
“We recognise that in order to keep businesses open and jobs in town, the Government needs to fast track our investment in local infrastructure.”
Mr Perrottet said the package would boost water security for local communities and provide support for farmers and their local communities.
“The best drought package for regional NSW is rain, but until the skies open we will stand by communities that are doing it tough,” Mr Perrottet said. “We will always back our farmers and rural communities as they continue to deal with this terrible drought.”
Mr Marshall said the assistance would allow farmers to cut the cost of farming fees and charges, continue to use transport subsidies and would provide funding for emergency water carting.
“Our farmers are doing it incredibly tough and that’s why we’re directing additional funds to help reduce cost of living pressures, drought-proof properties and transport stock and fodder,” Mr Marshall said. “While what is needed most is simply more rainfall I’m confident this package will help alleviate the burden associated with one of the worst droughts in living memory.”