More help for drought-affected farmers in Australia
Staff Writer |
Direct assistance and concessional loans to aid drought-stricken farmers across the nation will increase to $1.8 billion as part of the next phase of the Turnbull Government's drought package.
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The Liberal-Nationals Government has announced additional funding for local infrastructure in drought-affected areas, new tax breaks for farmers, the appointment of a National Drought Coordinator and low-interest loans as part of the next phase of our drought response.
The Government will also simplify the application form for Farm Household Allowance.
"The Government stands shoulder to shoulder with our farmers to ensure they can survive the severe and widespread drought that has affected so many. Our farmers are the backbone of the nation, providing the produce all Australians rely on.
"We have appointed Major General Stephen Day, DSC, AM, as the National Drought Coordinator.
"Major General Day will engage across all levels of government, the private sector, philanthropic organisations and with communities and farmers.
"He will work with government to facilitate coordination of service delivery, including the Drought Commissioner in NSW, Drought Commissioners in Queensland, the Farm Liaison Officer appointed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and relevant agencies in other states.
"Under the next phase of our drought assistance policy:
"The Drought Communities Programme will be expanded and receive an additional $75 million to help support an initial 60 councils in drought-stricken areas, funding local community infrastructure and other projects, such as emergency water supply.
"This measure recognises that support is also needed for the communities and businesses that back our farmers.
"Primary producers can immediately deduct (rather than depreciate over three years) the cost of fodder storage assets, such as silos and hay sheds used to store grain and other animal feed storage, making it easier for farmers to invest in and stockpile fodder.
"The Government is doubling the amount a farmer can borrow in low-interest loans to $2 million and increasing the total amount available for these loans to $500 million in any one year.
"These loans will assist with financing immediate needs such as purchasing feed and fodder. The first five years of these loans will remain interest only.
"Farmers with existing government loans will also be able to refinance to take advantage of the interest-only concessional period.
"An additional $23.7 million will be provided to improve drought resilience by extending the Great Artesian Basin bore capping program that plugs abandoned bores and replaces free-running channels with new water-efficient piping.
"There will be a special drought round under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund that will provide up to $72 million for water infrastructure in drought-affected areas.
"An additional $2.7 million will be provided to allow the Bureau of Meteorology to develop new finer scale regional weather and climate guides, helping farmers make decisions about crop planting and stocking levels by better understanding their local climate risks." ■