Councillors vote to look at ways to provide practical assistance to Highlands farmers

Council will look at ways it can provide relief for farmers in times of drought.

It was a unanimous decision at the June 13 council meeting to hold an information session to consider a policy where council could offer farmers practical assistance.

Councillor Larry Whipper brought forward the Notice of Motion which followed on from a Question with Notice by Cr Peter Nelson.

While councillors were told, drought relief was primarily a federal and state issue, Cr Whipper said it was a discussion still worth having.

“We owe our farming community so much. They offer, here in our shire, this beautiful historic landscape that we promote and encourage people to come and experience and invest their money into our community,” he said.

“It may be nothing more than the role advocacy for our farmers, it may be a little bit more. We can then show that we do value what they [farmers] do and they gifts they give to this community.”

Cr Whipper emphasised that in many cases it was not just the financial strain on the farmers themselves but the emotional and psychological impact on them and their families.

Councillors also welcomed the news on Wednesday that the drought relief package would receive a $284 million boost in the 2018 NSW Budget.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and the Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair announced increased financial support, funding for mental health, key infrastructure including Doppler weather stations and streamlining kangaroo management.

The extra funding will increase the NSW Government’s drought relief package to more than half a billion dollars

“I know quite a few  of the dairy farmers here are doing it very tough. I’m pleased to hear state government have put their hand in their pocket,” Cr Graham McLaughlin said.

Cr Nelson said council could also play a role in communicating with the community to advise farmers of what assistance was available to them.

Council also has the Mayoral Relief Fund which can help farmers who are struggling.

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