Farming communities have welcomed an extra $250 million for drought relief from the Federal Government.
On Sunday 19 August, Malcolm Turnbull announced that the total Federal funding for drought relief will be lifted to $1.8 billion.
The announcement included additional funding for local infrastructure in drought affected areas, new tax breaks for drought infrastructure, simplification of the application form for Farm Household Allowance, the appointment of a National Drought Coordinator and an increase in the value of low-interest loans.
Mr Turnbull said the Government was responding to feedback and extensive consultations with farming communities in recent weeks.
This is really important, to get some more cash into these communities, to do long overdue work of the type councils are always attending to.
“That’s going to provide some more jobs and some more income into the towns,” he said in a video on Facebook (see below).
More money will be injected into to 36 councils in NSW, 22 in Queensland and two in Victoria.
“It’s great to see support forthcoming for our regional communities, who also do it tough when the farm sector falls on hard times,” National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson said.
Future resilience and preparedness of drought was a main element of the funding allocations with $23 million going towards new bores across the Great Artesian Basin and $72 million for improved water infrastructure in drought affected areas.
There will also be $2.7 million dedicated to the Bureau of Meteorology for long term forecasting, helping farmers make decisions about farming businesses.
🚨 WATCH it here first – our $1.8 bil drought package including a new National Drought Coordinator
Posted by Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday, August 18, 2018
Major General Stephen Day will fulfill the position of Drought Coordinator and will liaise with Governments, charities, donors and communities to coordinate drought assistance and to identify gaps and risks.
Many of the measures announced are available to all farmers, regardless of income and asset base, and will deliver a valuable recouping of costs, at a time when cash flow is low.
Under the new taxation measures farmers can claim costs expended on fodder storage, such as silos and hay sheds, after one year as opposed to three.
Eligible farm businesses will benefit from low-interest loans of up to $2 million to support livestock feeding programs and provide a cash buffer for farmers who have little to no income.
Farmers with existing bank loans can refinance to save thousands of dollars due to the lower interest rates, with the first five years of the loan remaining interest only.
“From the Prime Minister down, the Government understands the hardship many farmers are facing.
At the end of the day, the only silver bullet is rain.
While we wait for Mother Nature to deliver, I urge all farmers to take advantage of the measures announced and to check their eligibility for all appropriate assistance available,” Ms Simson said.
For more information on where to access drought assistance, visit our campaign page.