Water and more - broad ranging package for farmers and regional communities
The Federal Government’s latest drought support package will provide some stimulus for long term recovery measures, according to NSW Farmers.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said news of an additional 100 gigalitres of water to be made available to farmers along the Murray at a discounted rate to grow fodder is a welcome step.
“The extension of the Drought Communities Program and redirection of $200 million from the Building Better Regions Fund means that Councils will have increased opportunity for cash injections across towns and small communities, improving local amenities and infrastructure while stimulating local employment,” Mr Jackson said.
“However, the centre piece of this latest package for farmers is low interest loans that do have to be paid back. There will be farmers who do not have the capacity to do that.”
“The two years interest and repayment free period and extending the concessional loans to agriculture dependent businesses are welcome adjustments that NSW Farmers have pushed for.”
“As farming activity slows agriculture dependent businesses struggle to keep going and maintain skilled employees. Once these businesses close, people leave country towns, and it is difficult to bring them back.”
“The Government must reassure applicants that they will streamline paperwork, minimise red-tape and ensure Banks are proactive in their response to farmers and small businesses.”
“Today’s announcement, coupled with last month’s commitment to improve access to the Farm Household Allowance and increase the number of Rural Financial Councillors is welcome – but these must start to be available within weeks not months.”
“Maintaining essential services, especially access to education, across regional and remote communities is critical. We acknowledge the $10 million included in this announcement to assist parents with education costs and particularly the $5 million for regional early childhood services. Access to early learning is an essential building block, increases socialisation and reduces isolation for children and parents.”
"There is still more to do. The Federal Government policy in relation to competition laws, electricity prices and cost of capital has impacted agriculture's ability to be resilient in this drought."
"NSW Farmers has also been calling on the State and Federal Governments to support local Council rate rebates, direct support to maintain on-farm employment, progress risk insurance products, improve certainty of water access and maintain essential health services.”
Date: Thursday 7 November 2019
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