Funding doubles for NSW’s drought-hit farmers

The drought situation across NSW is worsening, according to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) more than 19 per cent of the state is already in drought, including the Wingecarribee.

Almost all of NSW is suffering from an extended dry period, which is expected to continue throughout the winter and potentially spring.

According to DPI modelling, most of the Shoalhaven, all of Kiama and Wingecarribee municipalities have been declared drought stricken. 

Support for farmers and their families facing drought has been boosted by $284 million in the upcoming NSW state budget.  

On June 13, increased financial support, funding for mental health, key infrastructure including Doppler weather stations and streamlining kangaroo management was announced for farmers was announced. 

“We know the drought is hitting our farmers hard but we want to reassure communities that we are doing everything we can to make sure the right help is available at the right time,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

About $250m will be allocated to the Farm Innovation Fund, with farmers now able to access one-off loans of up to $50,000, interest free for seven years, to bring in fodder and grain to sustain stock, as well as install key water infrastructure. 

Funding has also been allocated to support the Centre for Rural and Remote Health, including continued funding for 13 statewide coordinators to link rural people to the help they need. The funding will also allow additional counselling support through funding for the National Association for Loss and Grief.

“We are determined to stand side by side with our famers which is why we are providing both funding for drought resilience through our Farm Innovation Fund and strong mental healthcare support to get people through this tough time,” Ms Berejiklian said.

In addition, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said more than $25 million has been allocated to construct and operate three new Doppler radar weather stations, giving farmers more accurate weather forecasting.

“These new radars will deliver fast, accurate and live weather updates to help our farmers make timely business decisions about when to sow, harvest crops or move stock, boosting productivity and saving money,” Mr Barilaro said. 

“The radars will provide real-time weather coverage for 30 per cent of the State.”

The drought package will also include a new kangaroo management strategy, which will seek to reduce kangaroo numbers in drought-hit areas. 

The new strategy will make it easier for landholders to meet the harvest quotas set by the Commonwealth. In 2017, NSW met less than 20 per cent of the quota, which was set to maintain the long-term kangaroo population.