Low-interest loans for drought-affected farmers
The NSW Government's new Drought Transport Fund provides low-interest loans, with a two-year interest- and repayment-free period, to help farmers manage livestock through dry conditions.
Eligible farmers can apply for low-interest loans of up to $20,000 to cover 100% of costs (GST exclusive) to transport stock, fodder or water to/from drought-affected properties. The first two years of a seven-year loan are interest and repayment free.
The Drought Transport Fund complements existing subsidies for the cost of transporting donated fodder within NSW and transporting stock off a property for animal welfare purposes.
These measures form part of the wider $300 million NSW Drought Strategy, which includes:
- a rural resilience program
- rural support workers and financial counselling
- the Farm Innovation Fund to help prepare for draught and improve permanent infrastructure.
The Farm Innovation Fund has approved $54 million worth of low-interest loans in the 2017-18 financial year, with almost $9 million worth of loans applied for in March 2018 alone, and more than $200 million since its inception in 2013.
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said more than a third of the state is struggling with drought, and expressed particular concern for the Hunter, Central Tablelands, Central West and in the Far West of the state.
“Primary production is the lifeblood of the communities in these regions and when farmers are struggling, the whole community feels the impact," Mr Blair said.
"This additional step in our drought strategy will allow farmers to better manage core breeding stock, which will in turn enable a more rapid recovery when conditions improve.”