Official Media Release

New Transport Fund To Help Drought Affected Farmers in Upper Hunter

Michael Johnsen MP, Member for Upper Hunter has welcomed a new Drought Transport Fund announced today by the NSW Government which will help farmers manage livestock through dry conditions.

Mr Johnsen said that following his call for drought support to the State Parliament on 15 March 2018, the State Government’s NSW Drought Transport Fund will provide up to $20,000 in low interest loans, with a two-year interest and repayment free period.

“The fund will help our eligible farmers in Upper Hunter pay freight costs for fodder, water, or to move stock to agistment,” Mr Johnsen said.

“These costs have provided significant challenges for a number of producers who are trying to manage their property during these difficult conditions.”

“Primary production is the lifeblood of our Upper Hunter electorate communities and when farmers are struggling, the whole community feels the impact. This additional step in our drought strategy will allow our local farmers to better manage core breeding stock, which will in turn enable a more rapid recovery when conditions improve.”

The NSW Drought Transport Fund will complement existing transport 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 NSW Drought Strategy, which includes a rural resilience program, rural support workers and financial counselling, and the Farm Innovation Fund for on-farm drought preparedness work and capital improvement.

The Farm Innovation Fund has approved $54 million worth of low-interest loans this financial year, with almost $9 million worth of loans applied for in March alone, and more than $200 million since its inception in 2013.

In the Parliament on March 15, 2018 Mr Johnsen said ‘I would like the Government to consider the following short-term assistance for farmers in my area. The first measure is freight subsidies for all fodder, purchased or donated—and not just sourced from New South Wales, because we are running short of fodder in New South Wales—transportation of stock to agistment in other areas where feed may be available, and water cartage for stock and domestic use where practical’.

“Our local farmers and families in Upper Hunter have told me they needed this help, and I have worked consistently in lobbying Ministers to achieve this, with the Nationals in Government having heard them loud and clear,” Mr Johnsen concluded.

More information on the NSW Drought Transport Fund and application details are available from www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au