The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) welcomes the recently announced State and Federal drought assistance packages.
The RGA President, Mr Jeremy Morton said, “The announcement of the NSW Governments $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package and the Federal Governments extension and increased Farm Household Allowance Scheme payments is welcome news to all farmers who are struggling through the drought conditions.”
The NSW Governments Emergency Drought Relief Package, in particular, the waiving of fixed government water charges is of great assistance to irrigators as these fixed fees apply regardless of water allocations. Other inclusions in this package are $190 million for drought transport subsidies, $110 million to reduce the cost of farming through waiving fees and charges (including fixed water charges) and $150 million to increase the Farm Innovation Fund. This package will also include funding for counselling and mental health services, critical services for regional communities and animal welfare and stock disposal.
“The waiving of fixed water charges under the NSW Governments Emergency Drought Relief Package is in particular a positive outcome for irrigators who are charged these fees regardless of water allocations. The waiving of these fees is significant as it means that the government recognises that irrigators along with livestock producers and dryland farms are impacted by this drought,” said Mr Morton.
Furthermore, from 1 July 2018, the Federal Governments Regional Investment Corporation is offering farmers low interest rate concessional loans to assist with drought preparedness and management.
“The RGA is supportive of the current drought assistance packages and measures that have been released and strongly encourages growers to make contact with their advisors or local Rural Financial Counsellors to discuss these assistance options. For further information, please see http://www.rfcsnsw-sr.com.au/.
"Furthermore the RGA continues to encourage both the State and Federal Governments to consider additional options that will allow irrigation farmers access to water in the short term,” said Mr Morton. The RGA is working hard to ensure that all options for providing water to irrigators are being fully investigated.
In particular, the RGA has been working with Local, State and Federal water agencies to investigate whether there are opportunities to enter into arrangements to access any available water parcels. In particular, the RGA seeks government support for a proposal that part of the current environmental water holdings be made available to irrigators to enable growers to finish winter crops and generate fodder and grain that will assist to replenish decreasing feed stock reserves.