Cooler temperatures and welcomed rain enabled firefighters to bring bushfires under control this week. While fire-fighting efforts continued, the focus has also now turned to recovery and support for farmers and others impacted to get back on their feet.
The National Farmers’ Federation and its members continue to consult closely with Government on how best to direct investment to agriculture from the $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund.
In Canberra this week the Prime Minister hosted a series of bushfire roundtables. The NFF attended the small business roundtable, agriculture, and peak industry roundtables.
These forums allowed representatives of those most affected to explain what’s needed in the immediate, medium and long term.
The journey of recovery will take time, but this week the Government announced a number of important immediate support measures.
Federal Government announces grants for fire-affected farmers
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced grants of up to $75,000 for fire affected farmers.
The money will be distributed by state governments and will closely follow the funding that was distributed to people affected by the Queensland floods at the start of 2019.
Farmers in receipt of bushfire relief grants will remain eligible to apply for drought assistance measures such as the Farm Household Allowance.
Funding will be available through the state-based Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program.
For more information contact 1800 900 090.
Agriculture Bushfire Roundtable
On Thursday, the Government held an Agriculture Roundtable led by the Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie.
The NFF joined other farm sector peak bodies in the meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack; Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, and the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Jonathon Duniam.
The Roundtable allowed the Government to hear more about the issues affecting farmers and businesses on the ground and ideas for how they could best assist in the recovery efforts.
Additional $15 million for rural financial counselling services
This week the Government also announced the allocation of $15 million to fund 60 additional rural financial counsellors and support workers over the next two years.
The funding comes following an expectation that demand for rural financial counselling services will increase as people evaluate the damage and begin the recovery and rebuild process.
The service provided by the Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS) will help farmers assess the financial position of their farm business, understand what support might be available and develop a plan to move forward.
Payments for RFS and SES volunteers
NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and NSW State Emergency Services (SES) volunteers who have spent more than 10 days fighting fires and helping with the recovery effort can now apply for loss of income payments.
Self-employed or employees of small or medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million will be eligible for $200 per day up to a total of $6000 without evidence of income loss.
A maximum payment of $300 per day will be provided with proof of income loss through pay slips or previous tax statements.
Drought-affected primary producers will be able to claim a payment of $200 per day without evidence of income loss. Payments are tax-free and are not means-tested.
For more information:
- Visit a Service NSW Centre
- Visit www.service.nsw.gov.au
- Call 13 77 88