The Nationals in Government are making it easier for farmers and their families to access drought relief, with new measures announced by Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair.

With the entire State continuing to be affected by the drought, it’s important that our response also continues to develop. Mr Blair has made it easier to access the Drought Transport Subsidies and the Drought Assistance Fund by relaxing the gross off-farm asset test and supporting the next generation of new entrants.

The threshold has been increased from $1 million in off-farm assets to $5 million, meaning more farmers are eligible to access a range of support measures including the transport of fodder to feed stock.

Criteria for ‘new entrants’ have also been included in the Government’s drought assistance guidelines to recognise and support people who are new to farming and who would benefit from accessing the full range of drought support measures while building their farm business.

Mr Blair said the Nationals in Government would continue to assess drought relief measures to make sure farmers were receiving the best possible support.

“The relaxation of the required criteria acknowledges the efforts of some farmers to diversify their asset base from farming but who nevertheless require more immediate help,” Mr Blair said. “These changes will also help our next generation of farmers who are unable to meet the 50 per cent gross on-farm income criteria due to only being in the industry for a relatively short time. We will continue to make sure that any changes we make are fair and most importantly, can be adapted to all types of farming businesses right across the state.”

Mr Blair said farmers can also now go to their closest Local Land Services (LLS) office, some Department of Primary Industries (DPI) research stations and 37 Service NSW offices for assistance with completing and submitting drought transport subsidy applications.

“This will speed up the processing timeframes, ensuring farmers get their subsidy payments as quickly as possible,” Mr Blair said.

To ensure the integrity of the program, the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) has set up an audit process to make sure every dollar goes to those farmers most in need.

The NSW Government Emergency Drought Relief package provides more than $1 billion in drought relief measures.