NSW Nationals Upper House MP Sam Farraway has praised the hard work being done by farmers and food processors across NSW to continue to put food on supermarket shelves for Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Farraway said farmers have continued to provide Australians with three meals a day the while battling their own crisis on the land.
“The fact that farmers have continued to put food on the table for all Australians during this crisis while over 90 per cent of the state is still in drought is incredible,” Mr Farraway said.
“The unfortunate and ugly scenes of panic buying in supermarkets across Australia has brought into focus the crucial role our farmers play in not only feeding the nation but protecting the sovereignty and independence of our country.
“At a time of great uncertainty across our country the one guarantee is that our farmers will continue to put three meals on our plates every day.”
“We need our farmers now more than ever.”
Mr Farraway said while recent summer rainfall had topped up dams and rain tanks and left green pick in paddocks more widespread rain was needed before the conversation could turn to recovery.
“We can’t complain about any amount of rain, every drop in the paddock counts but we still have a long way to go before we bounce back from this drought,” he said.
“While conversations across the world have rightly tuned to beating this virus we know that more needs to be done to make it through this drought so we can keep feeding Australia and the world.
“We have seen an incredible uptake of grants under the Drought Transport Subsidy program and funding continues to roll out through the Farm Innovation Fund.
“Every farmer has had their LLS rates, fixed water charges and vehicle registration costs waived by the NSW Nationals in Government because we know every dollar saved today will make a difference tomorrow.
“But we know we need to do more and we will.”
“To all of our farmers and their families I want to say thank you and assure you that we will continue to go above and beyond the $1.9 billion in emergency drought support already delivered by the NSW Nationals in Government,” Mr Farraway said.
“We have been building a bridge to recovery on drought for a long time and but know there is a lot more we still need to do to make it to the other side.”
The extended NSW Emergency Drought Relief Package for 2019-20 includes:
· $70 million to continue Drought Transport Subsidies for fodder, stock and water
· $50 million to waive Local Land Services rates
· $30 million to waive fixed water charges in rural and regional areas
· $10 million to waive Farm Innovation Fund interest fees
· $15 million for emergency town water supply assistance
· $10 million to reduce the cost of farming , including apiary fee waivers, wild dog fence fee waivers, stock welfare panels and donated fodder
The NSW Government committed to new programs and increased funding in other critical areas, including:
· $7 million for exemptions for agricultural vehicle registration fees
· $8.2 million for counselling and mental health programs
· $5.2 million to support preschool children and their families facing hardship due to drought
· $5 million for training to upskill farmers and contractors
· $1 million in grants to local sports organisations
This is on top of the $400 million in election commitments, which includes:
· $350 million to bolster the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF) infrastructure program
· $37.5 million to fund an extension to the wild dog fence in Western NSW
· $13 million to continue NSW support of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative.