By Robbie Sefton
So much hope invested in that weekend rain front: and much disappointment followed.
Inevitably, though, this drought is going to be with us for a long time to come. Even when the rain deficit corrects itself, farmers will be carrying a drought-induced financial deficit on their books, perhaps for years.
Since Alistair and I moved our farming business from Western Australia to NSW in 1997, the drought and/or flood years have almost equalled the good production years. We have learned not to count on good years, or bemoan the bad ones. In Australian farming, it’s a matter of putting emotion aside, looking calmly at the cards you’ve been presented, and playing them with as much skill as you can muster.
However, circumstances sometimes take you to places where past knowledge no longer counts. For many, this drought is one of those events. In which case, it’s time to look outward, and see what support is available.
There is a lot of ‘noise’ around where to seek information about the drought so I have put together a list to help us all navigate our way through the clutter.
Apart from the practical help this list represents, I think it also represents a breakdown of the rural-urban divide. There are many outside agriculture thinking about this challenge. It would be preferable that the drought never was, but since it’s here, let us be appreciative of the work being done to help farmers and the businesses that rely on them get through this crisis in the best shape as possible.
NSW- Specific Assistance
- NSW Drought Hub website – https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/climate-and-emergencies/droughthub
- NSW Support for Primary Producers – https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/about-us/rural-support/RRP/primary-producers
NSW Support Measures
- Transport Subsidy: To move stock to and from agistment, for sale or slaughter and also for fodder and water.
- Animal Welfare Transport Subsidy: A subsidy on the transport of stock is permanently available to primary producers where animals are at significant risk in terms of animal welfare.
- Donated fodder: 100% transport subsidy available to community groups or other organisations transporting fodder for the benefit of multiple primary producers.
- Heavy Vehicle Access: Changes to rules governing heavy vehicles carrying larger loads of feed, water, and stock in response to drought conditions. The changes allow for an increase in hay capacity of 21% compared to the current general access vehicles.
Long term support measures – NSW
- Farm Innovation Fund – NSW Rural Assistance Authority: Helping primary producers identify and address risks to their farming enterprise.
- Drought Assistance Fund – NSW Rural Assistance Authority: Interest free loans of up to $50,000 to help primary producers improve enterprise sustainability.
- Farm Business Skills Professional Development Program – Rural Assistance Authority: Supporting farm business in all conditions, but particularly in relation to preparing for and responding to drought.
- Rural Resilience Program – NSW DPI: Supporting the networks and information flows that underpin primary producer resilience.
- NSW Rural Financial Counselling Service: Support and advice for applying for funding and assistance.
- Farm Household Allowance: Extensive farm hardship package.
- Drought Loans: For farm business owners affected by drought, or who want to prepare for drought.
- Farm Investment Loans: Targeted at those who solely or mainly sell products into supply chains that are interstate or outside Australia, or plan to in the future.
- Farm Management Deposits
Doubled to $800,000.
ATO: 13 28 66
Immediate deduction: fodder storage assets.
ATO: 13 28 66
Profit from forced disposal or death of livestock
You can elect to spread profit earned from the forced disposal or death of livestock over a period of five years.
Contact the ATO or your accountant.
- Farm Debt Mediation
More information from:
– NSW Rural Assistance Authority: 1800 678 593
– Your local Rural Financial Counsellor
- Mental Health Support: An extensive range of services to support mental health are available. The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) – is a good entry point. Call 02 6363 8444 to identify your nearest RAMHP counsellor.
Robbie Sefton has a dual investment in rural Australia as a farmer, producing wool, meat and grains and as managing director of national marketing communications company Seftons.