Synlait chief executive Leon Clement still hopes to open the company’s new Pokeno milk powder plant on time.
NSW Farmers Association’s James Jackson says the extra A$500m is generous but he stressed that the money must be easily accessible to all the state’s farmers battling drought.
“The expansion of the drought transport subsidies... recognises that good animal welfare covers a variety of activities and requires long-term planning,” says Jackson.
“The decision to provide back-payments to January 1 recognises that planning for drought happens before the country is dry.
“It’s not only the big costs that affect farm business cashflow; it’s the small, ongoing commitments that add up. Relief from deferring rate payments, water licenses and agricultural vehicle registration will benefit local communities and contractors.”
The NSW state government says the Emergency Drought Relief Package will bring the total drought support to at least A$1 billion.
It will provide A$190m for drought transport subsidies covering up to 50% of the full cost of transporting fodder, water for stock and livestock to pasture, slaughter or sale.
The relief measure will be back-dated so farmers can get more money for freight expenses incurred since January 1, 2018.
A$100m is offered for reducing the cost of farming fees and charges and A$150 million for the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF) infrastructure programme.
Funding will also go towards counselling and mental health, critical services including trucking water and repairing and upgrading roads, and animal welfare and stock disposal.
The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, says this drought has quickly worsened in NSW because June and July were drier than expected.
“[Our increase of] the drought-relief package to over A$1 billion reflects how serious this drought is, and how much we value the health and wellbeing of our farming and regional communities,” Barilaro said.