Much of the State will be blanketed by rain this week, but NSW Nationals Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has reminded farmers that drought assistance is still available despite the downpour.

Speaking on a grey wet day in the Riverina, Ms Cooke welcomed the conditions but reminded farmers not to self-assess and to contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority for help.

“It’s wonderful to be under grey skies and see the water on the roads, paddocks and pavements of the Cootamundra electorate, but I’m not about to celebrate,” she said. “It’s important that farmers understand that I have been watching the situation across the electorate and that I want them to know that all the support which the NSW Government has put in place is still very much available.”

Ms Cooke said the NSW Government Drought Assistance Package was providing $1.1 billion worth of support which remained on the table.

“This little bit of rain isn’t going to change much for farmers, there will still be difficult decisions to be made now and in the future, so it is important that primary producers bear in mind the support which is available to them,” she said. “I understand that crops are beginning to fail and that some canola crops are being cut for hay, while some cereal crop regions may be able to harvest grain. However, with increasing temperatures and lack of rain, this may deteriorate quickly.”

In July a $500 million NSW Emergency Drought Relief Package was announced, which included $190 million for Drought Transport Subsidies, $100 million for cutting the cost of farming fees and charges, and $150 million to bolster the Farm Innovation Fund infrastructure program.

“There is also funding for counselling and mental health support,” she said. “All of these are still in place and will remain so – the Nationals in Government are standing by our farmers until such time that the drought is declared at an end. I strongly encourage any primary producers to look at the range of support available to them and apply.”

For more information on the Emergency Drought Relief Package click here.

Information on the Federal Government’s drought assistance measures can be found here

If you are worried about anyone, farmer or otherwise, who is doing it tough, please encourage them to seek help. Rural financial counsellors provide referrals to counsellors and support to access programs and there are also a number of phone and web-based support services of particular help to farmers. They allow access to expertise without the need to travel and are fully confidential. The following numbers can be called free of charge for assistance 24 hours, 7 days a week:

• Lifeline 131 114
• Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
• MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
• Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467