NSW Budget 2018

Drought Package

More than $579 million has been allocated to help drought-affected farmers in the NSW Government’s Budget 2018.

Drought has been a constant and inevitable feature of the NSW landscape.

Approximately half the state is in drought or is experiencing conditions fast approaching drought. Some of the worst-hit areas are the Hunter, Central Tablelands, Central West and in the Far West of the state.

The NSW Government is standing by our farmers, their families and rural communities.

 

CURRENT MEASURES

 

NSW Drought Strategy

In 2015, the NSW Government launched a $300 million Drought Strategy which focused on preparedness, targeted support for rural communities and improving decision making. The strategy includes a number of transport loans and subsidies, rural support workes and financial counselling, a rural resilience program, skills and training subsidies and the Farm Innovation Fund.

Dedicated to the NSW Drought Strategy is:

Interested parties should visit: www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au, call the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or contact their Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.

NSW Drought Coordinator

A State Drought Coordinator was implemented last month to help ensure farmers and their communities can raise concerns and identify opportunities for the NSW Government’s current drought strategy. Former NSW Rural Woman of the Year and grazier, Pip Job was announced as the coordinator.

Farmers wanting to speak to the coordinator: drought.coordinator@dpi.nsw.gov.au

 

2018 BOOSTED DROUGHT PACKAGE


Expansion of the Farm Innovation Fund

The Farm Innovation Fund is the centrepiece of the NSW Drought Strategy and has been in high demand since it was implemented.

The fund offers low-interest loans, which proved up to $250,000 per project to assist farmers to identify and address risks to their enterprise, improve permanent on-farm infrastructure and ensure long-term productivity and sustainable land use. The fund is currently capped at $250 million and has already approved $216 million in loans since 2013. With the current conditions, the Rural Assistance Authority has been receiving more than $3 million in applications each week.

The NSW Government’s top up will see an additional $250 million for the Fund. The new fund allocation will also provide provisional loans for cattle farmers to biobank the genetic material of their herd when forced to de-stock due to drought conditions. As well as this, a portion of the fund will go towards improving farm connectivity, installing emergency water infrastructure and to help fence properties to exclude kangaroos and other pest animals.

Doppler Radar Weather Stations

The NSW Government has committed to spending $24.4 million to construct three new Dual Polarimetric Doppler Radar (Doppler radar) weather stations across the state.

Doppler radars are specialised radars that measure the direction and speed of precipitation in the atmosphere towards or away from the radars. They deliver fast, accurate, live weather updates allowing landholders to make timely business decisions — such as when to sow seed, harvest crops or move stock — boost productivity, save money and remain competitive. The maximum range is typically between 150 and 200 kilometres away.

Doppler radars benefits over conventional radars include:

  • The ability to more accurately determine the accumulated rainfall and resultant stored soil moisture across properties, particularly for large and geographically dispersed land holdings;
  • Improved short term forecasting of severe weather;
  • Improved techniques for the short-term forecasting of rainfall;
  • Improved radar-derived rainfall rates for use in food warning operations; and
  • Enhanced tracking of the location and strength of wind changes also benefits aviation, detection of plague locust migrations, firefighting and other emergency services.

The long-term benefits of installing the Doppler radars will provide economic, social and environmental benefits for over 170,000 people as well as provide benefits of over $156 million over the next 20 years, including;

  • An estimated $124 million to the agricultural industry through a reduction in input costs and improved crop yields;
  • Benefits of up to $12.4 million in improved road safety and reduced injury costs;
  • Benefits of reduced flood damage of up to $11.2 million; and
  • An estimated $34.6 million in benefits to the mining sector.

Kangaroo Reduction

There are record numbers of kangaroos in regional NSW and they are causing damage to farm fences, eating pasture and drinking the already limited water resources.

The NSW Government is making changes to make it easier for landholders to manage the high numbers of kangaroos. The Government will also support landholders to connect with commercial harvesters which provide landholders additional tools to manage kangaroos. These changes include:

  • Amended licencing conditions to enable more than two shooters to operate on a licence and allow for secondary uses of carcasses for non-commercial purposes;
  • Remove the need for physical tags;
  • Standardise the criteria to issue quotas; and
  • Establish a new commercial harvesting zone in the South East of NSW.