Drought Assistance for Farmers
Thankfully the majority of our region is in the process of recovering from the drought. While many drought assistance packages have now closed there is some assistance still available as listed below.
Please note that while we update our lists of available grants regularly, this is not a comprehensive list and closing dates and details should be verified using the links provided as they are subject to change by the providers without notice.
Completing the applications to take advantage of the variety of support that is available can be overwhelming.
The Rural Financial Counselling Service - Northern Region is available to provide support to navigate the assistance that is available to you.
There are councellors located throughout the Northern Inland, and their contact details are available here.
Farm Innovation Fund
Value: Up to $1 Million
Run By: Rural Assistance Authority
Further Information: https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/loans/farm-innovation-fund
Last Updated: 2nd of November 2020
The Farm Innovation Fund provides low interest loans to helps farmers to:
- Improve farm productivity by reducing risks and improve efficiencies by building fodder and grain storage facilities, sheds, fencing, roadworks and solar power conversions.
- Manage adverse seasonal conditions by improving water efficiencies with irrigation systems, cap and piping of bores, new dams, install water tanks and desilting of ground tanks.
- Ensure long term sustainability by increasing the viability of a farm business and improve pasture and soil health, plant trees for shade and wildlife corridors, eradicate weeds, flood proof property and fence riverbanks.
Drought Assistance Fund
Value: Up to $50,000
Run By: Rural Assistance Authority
Further Information: https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/loans/drought-assistance-fund
Last Updated: 2nd of November 2020
he NSW Government is offering $50,000 interest-free loans to primary producers to implement systems and management practices that enhance the sustainability of their farm business. The loan term is seven years and there are no repayments required in the first two years.
This loan will fund:
- The transport of stock, fodder and water
- Genetic banking of breeding herds
- Installation of on-farm fodder and water infrastructure
- Activities that promote profitability and resilience as a result of the on-farm investment
Farm Household Allowance
Value: Based on individual assessment
Run By: Australian Government Services Australia
Further Information: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/farm-household-allowance
Last Updated: 15th of October 2020
Farm Household Allowance (FHA) provides assistance to farming families experiencing financial hardship. This program focuses on helping farmers make important decisions to improve their long-term financial situation.
The support available includes:
- a fortnightly payment for up to 4 years in each specific 10-year period
- supplementary allowances such as rent assistance, telephone and pharmaceutical allowances and a Health Care Card
- individual case support with a Farm Household Case Officer (FHCO)
- a financial assessment of the farm enterprise worth up to $1500
- up to $10,000 in activity supplements that gives farmers an opportunity to develop skills, access training and pay for professional advice to better manage their business into the future
Bee Site Permit
The NSW Government is waiving bee keeping fees for existing public bee site permits for 24 months. Those beekeepers who paid or have been invoiced for their 2018/19 fees will either receive a refund or will be provided with a credit for the next billable financial year. You can get a refund through your local LLS regional apiary contact for any permits paid for the July 2018 - June 2019 or July 2019 - June 2020 periods, by providing LLS with your banking details.
Agricultural Vehicle Registration
The NSW Government is delivering relief to farmers for new registrations and renewals of agricultural vehicles. Visit Service NSW for more details or call Service NSW on 13 22 13.
Read the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
Farm Innovation Fund Interest Charges
All existing Farm Innovation Fund customers, and all applicants who submitted on or before 30 June 2020, will have applicable interest charges for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years refunded and waived. You do not need to apply for this waiver as it will be automatically applied to FIF customers. For more information contact the Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593.
Grazing Permit Waiver
The NSW Government is waiving 2019 fees for existing grazing permit holders on National Parks land in the Riverina. You do not need to apply for this waiver as it will be automatically applied.
NSW Local Land Services Rates
The NSW Government are waiving all Local Land Service rates for 2019 and 2020, including general rates and rates for animal health and pests, the meat industry levy and costs for routine stock moving permit and stock identification. You do not need to apply for this waiver as it will be automatically applied to landholders.
Instant Asset Write-off
This scheme allows eligible small businesses, including those in primary production, to continue claiming a full deduction for business assets in the year they are purchased and/or installed, helping those businesses to improve their planning and cash flows. Assets valued under $30,000 purchased by businesses with a turnover threshold under $50 million between 2 April 2019 and 30 June 2020 can instantly write it off the full value of the asset that financial year.
Further information can be found on the department’s and on the Australian Taxation Office’s website.
Immediate deductions for fodder storage assets
The Australian Government is enabling primary producers to immediately deduct (rather than depreciate over three years) the cost of fodder storage assets, such as silos and hay sheds used to store grains and other animal feed storage, making it easier for farmers to invest in and stockpile fodder. Visit their website (http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/tax-relief) for more information or call the Taxation office on 13 28 66.
Income Tax Averaging
Effective from 1 July 2017, primary producers can re-commence income averaging 10 years after opting out. Primary producers who opted out of income averaging for the 2006–07, or an earlier financial year, will be opted back into income averaging for the first financial year after 2016–17 in which their taxable primary production income is greater than that for the previous financial year.
Further information can be found on their website http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/tax-relief
Primary Producers Affected by Drought and Natural Disasters
In special circumstances, the Commissioner for Taxation may release individuals from payment of income tax, fringe benefits taxes and some other taxes where it is shown that payment would cause serious hardship. The Tax Office will look at circumstances on a case–by–case basis. The Australian Taxation Office can help people affected by drought and other natural disasters with:
- more time to pay
- waiving penalties or interest charged at a time you were affected by drought
- payment plans with interest free periods
- adjusting pay as you go (PAYG) instalments to better suit your circumstances
- tax incentives for primary producers.
Further information can be found on their website http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/tax-relief and the Australian Taxation Office website, on help for drought-affected taxpayers and dealing with disasters.
Business Connect – Support for Farm and Non-farm Businesses
Business Connect provides tailored, trusted advice for your small farm or non-farm business. Business Connect advisors are experienced and accredited professionals who provide confidential advice independently from the NSW Government. Advisors can advise on a range of business matters such as business planning, looking at opportunities to diversify, marketing, digital marketing and HR.
Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP)
The NSW Government is funding the state-wide RAMHP program to help link people in regional and remote areas of NSW with mental health support. Visit RAMHP for more information on services, training and the location of a counsellor near you.
Rural Resilience Program
The Rural Resilience team are dedicated to building the personal and business resilience of farming communities. The team works proactively in partnership with farming communities and service providers across NSW to strengthen networks, exchange information and deliver relevant initiatives that build personal and business resilience skills and knowledge, enabling people to move forward in a positive direction. To find a Rural Resilience Officers and Rural Support Workers near you, search the Assistance Near You map or visit Rural Resilience Program for more information.
Rural Adversity Mental Health Coordinators
New funding will provide for an additional five Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) Coordinators. This builds on the existing fourteen Coordinators based across NSW who link rural and remote residents to services and provide community education and support. To find your local RAMHP Coordinator, visit The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program.
National Association for Loss and Grief
NALAG a local community managed organisation with branches in rural NSW has been funded to run a series of sponsored and organised local events to encourage community engagement and awareness of local services, where farming families came to town to enjoy a free BBQ and can receive a free mental health and physical health check-up. Ten community events are planned over the next 12 months with more to follow. NALAG also offers a free telephone counselling service to those experiencing loss or grief. National Association for Loss & Grief 02 6882 9222 (During Business Hours).
Free ‘farm gate’ counselling and support will be available to people living and working in areas impacted by drought. This support will be available at a venue that suits the individual and their family – on the farm, in offices, at a café or via telephone. Local Health Districts will recruit six new clinicians and eight peer workers to deliver counselling and support to key areas in Hunter New England, Murrumbidgee and Western NSW local health districts. For information about local services, contact the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.
Additional Social Support and Wellbeing
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, contact:
Advice and Services
Rural Financial Counselling Service
The Rural Financial Counselling service is jointly funded by the state and Commonwealth governments and the counsellors help farmers who are dealing with, or are at risk of, financial hardship. Rural financial counsellors can help identify options, develop action plans and access the Farm Household Allowance (FHA). Rural Financial Counsellors are also available to assist farmers to lodge Drought Transport Subsidy forms. Search the Assistance Near You map to find a Counsellor near you or visit RFCS for more information.
Rural financial counsellors will support you to make the right decisions for your business. They can help you:
- Identify your financial and business options.
- Develop an action plan.
- Negotiate with your lenders.
- Apply for Farm Household Allowance.
Rural financial counsellors do not give family, emotional or social counselling or financial advice. They can give you referrals to other professional services. This includes accountants, agricultural advisors, education, or counselling.
Farm Debt Mediation
The NSW Government service offering farm debt mediation service to provide a structured negotiation process where an accredited, independent mediator helps the farmers and their creditors to negotiate and reach agreements about farm business debt.
'Farm Debt Mediation' is a structured negotiation process in which the mediator, as a neutral and independent person, assists the farmer and the creditor to communicate effectively, to resolve matters relating to farm debts, and to formalise that resolution in an agreement. Choosing a mediator is an important step once an invitation to mediate has been received.
The Farm Debt Mediation Act may also be used for succession planning and negotiating a business restructure if informal mediation has not resolved the issues.
Visit RAA's Farm Debt mediation page for more information and links to accredited mediators in your area.