Coalition broadens drought support - on the farm and in the community
NSW Farmers has welcomed a Federal Election focus on drought affected communities with the Coalition pledging more than $80 million in additional drought and regional community support measures.
If re-elected, the Liberal and National parties will deliver an extra $57.4 million in drought funding to provide increased loans to restock and replant, improve access to the Farm Household Allowance, and a pilot to expand the Rural Financial Counselling service to regional non-farming businesses.
The Coalition have also put the importance of agriculture to both local and national economies in the election spotlight, committing $30.9 million to new education programs in city schools, supporting a PIEFA national survey of student and teacher awareness on food and fibre production, and underpinning the value of Agricultural Shows through development grants and promotion.
“With the ongoing drought in regional NSW, the Association thanks the Coalition for listening to our concerns for the future of our farms and our communities,” NSW Farmers President James Jackson said.
The new restocking and replanting loans, to be available through the Regional Investment Corporation, would double to a maximum of $200,000 and feature a two year interest free period.
“This announcement is important as it does not defer the interest, it writes it off. It can take up to 3 years for income to be generated after a drought, and this will help to make on-farm decisions easier in coming months,” Mr Jackson said.
“NSW Farmers will be seeking an assurance that these loans will be available to horticulturalists with permanent plantings as without water many established apple, cherry and other fruit trees will be lost.”
“The Farm Household Allowance (FHA) is an important safety net for many. The commitment to access it for 4 years in every 10 recognises that variabilities in the climate don’t happen once in a farmer’s life – they reoccur.”
“The Coalition have also recognised the broader impact on the community by proposing to extend Rural Financial Counselling service to small businesses.”
“Our farmers are very aware that drought not only affects them, it affects their local business community, especially those enterprises that deliver the goods and services on which farmers depend to keep their business running efficiently.”
“The Nationals and the Liberals have shown they understand the important role that agriculture has in the nation’s economic prosperity. We call on the Australian Labor Party to match these commitments.”
Date: 30 April 2019
Media Contact: Michael Burt | 0428 228 988