Primary producers assistance guide

Rural Resilience Program

The NSW DPI Rural Resilience Program has staff across NSW and can provide support by way of referrals, liaising with other services and delivering initiatives tailored to the particular need of the community. We work closely with other partners such as the NSW Rural Assistance Authority, Rural Financial Counsellors, the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) and the Local Lands Services to do this.

We run a number of programs including educational, personal and business resilience building activities. We contribute to Rural Service Support Networks across NSW and work to ensure there is an informed and cohesive approach to supporting farmers across various agencies.

To sum up; The Rural Resilience Team listen to our farming communities, to learn about their issues and needs and also about what services and opportunities are available. Where appropriate we link farmers into existing services and initiatives. If particular services do not exist, then wherever possible, we work with our community partners to create new initiatives and opportunities.

NSW Department Primary Industries, Rural Resilience Program

Listen, learn and link to create opportunities for farming communities

Rural Resilience Officers and Rural Support Workers provide information on support available for farming families and can connect them to relevant service providers. Please get in touch.


Team Member




Grace Murray

0439 531 107

Broken Hill

Ellen Day

0427 639 761

Coffs Harbour

Currently vacant




Sue Freebairn

0429 212 368


Amanda Glasson

0438 082 731


Currently vacant




Ted O'Kane

0427 781 514


Danny Byrnes

0400 374 258


Ray Weinert

0447 634 507

Tocal (Co-ordinator)

Shannon McCormack

0419 281 199

Farm Family Gatherings

There may be opportunities to work with your local Rural Resilience Officer or Rural Support Worker to have a Farm Family Gathering in your area. These ‘gatherings’ are an opportunity for support services such as financial, production and emotional/physical health providers to share knowledge and experiences with farming communities.

They are a great opportunity for farmers to share knowledge of the impact of adverse events on them personally and how they are coping. These gatherings have proven to lift the spirits of people when they realise that ‘they are not in this alone!’

Drought Hub

What is the DroughtHub? NSW DroughtHub provides a one stop online destination for information on a vast range of services and support available to primary producers, their families and communities to prepare for and manage drought.

The DPI makes every attempt to ensure the information supplied is current, however the individual circumstances of DroughtHub users should be taken into account when considering the linked services.

Local Land Services

Local Land Services (LLS) delivers quality, customer focused services to farmers, landholders and the community across rural and regional NSW. Local Land Services is one statewide organisation offering integrated services, delivered regionally and tailored for each community, industry and landscape.

Local Land Services helps secure the future of agriculture and the environment for NSW communities. The Local Land Services team is here on the ground when it matters, with knowledge, networks and experience. Its programs and partnerships grow farm productivity and healthy environments. Its services and partnerships play a vital role in helping to protect against pests, diseases and environmental threats while we connect our customers with the best services, advice and networks.


Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS)

The RFCS provides free and impartial rural financial counselling to eligible primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses. Rural Financial Counsellors can:

  • help identify your financial and business options
  • help negotiate with your lenders
  • help you develop an action plan
  • help support you to access the Farm Household Allowance (FHA)
  • give you information about government and other assistance schemes

Rural financial counsellors do not provide family, emotional or social counselling or financial advice, but they can provide referrals and information.

Contact telephone: 1800 940 404

Farm Household Support

The Federal Government Department of Human Services (DHS) provides help for farmers and their families experiencing financial hardship. To be eligible:

  • you must be a farmer or the partner of a farmer. If you are the farmer you must contribute a significant part of your labour and capital to the farm enterprise based on specific criteria
  • meet an income and assets test
  • be willing to undertake a Farm Financial Assessment, and
  • be willing to enter into a Financial Improvement Agreement to help you improve your financial circumstances

To apply use your Centrelink online account through myGov or download paper forms.

Contact telephone: 132 316 Department of Human Services, Farmer Assistance Line

The Rural Assistance Authority

Farm Innovation Fund

The Farm Innovation Fund is an incentive-based initiative to assist farmers to identify and address risks to their farming enterprises, improve permanent farm infrastructure, ensure long term productivity and sustainable land use plus assisting to meet changes to seasonal conditions.

The availability of loans is subject to funds being available. No loans will be offered beyond the allocated funding. Applicants should contact the Authority prior to lodging an application.

  • A loan of up to $250,000 is available at very competitive interest rates.

This program is funded by the Australian Government and delivered in New South Wales by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.

Animal Welfare Transport Subsidy

A subsidy on the transport of stock is permanently available to primary producers where:

  • animals are at significant risk in terms of animal welfare;
  • there is little or no feed and/or water available. This includes both pasture and stored fodder;
  • animals leave the farming enterprise permanently; and
  • the enterprise demonstrates a significant financial need.

Contact telephone: 1800 678 593

Drought Assistance Fund

Interest free loans of up to $50,000 are available to eligible primary producers to assist in implementing systems and management practices that enhance the sustainability of their enterprise by funding;

  • Transport of livestock, transport of fodder and/or water
  • Water and Fodder infrastructure, and
  • Banking of genetic material of livestock.

Transport of Donated Fodder

A subsidy for the cost of transporting donated fodder to drought affected properties within NSW where the donated fodder is organised by community groups or other organisations for the benefit of multiple primary producers.

Prior to arranging transport of donated fodder the coordinating community group or organisation must obtain approval from the NSW Rural Assistance Authority. This program is funds limited with $500,000 available in each financial year.

Farm Debt Mediation

The Farm Debt Mediation Scheme makes it compulsory for banks and other creditors to offer mediation to farmers before commencing debt recovery proceedings on farm mortgages. A neutral and independent mediator assists the farmer and the creditor to try and reach agreement about current and future debt arrangements.

More information from the NSW Rural Assistance Authority or telephone 1800 678 593 or contact your Rural Financial Counsellor.

Appeals Process

The Rural Assistance Authority has developed a clear and independent system to review applications for assistance that have been refused. In the first instance the applicant should seek to discuss the refusal decision with the authority staff member responsible for the assessment. If the applicant is still not happy with the decision they can make an appeal within 20 days of receiving the authority’s written refusal. Appeals need to be lodged with the Authority.

More information from the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (PDF, 121.94 KB) at or telephone 1800 678 593 or contact your Rural Financial Counsellor.

Regional Investment Corporation (RIC)

Commonwealth Farm Business Loans

The Australian Government has established the Regional Investment Corporation. From 1 July 2018, farmers will need to apply to the RIC for the Commonwealth’s farm business concessional loans. The RIC will offer two loan products for farm businesses – Farm Investment Loans and Drought Loans.

If you have an existing Commonwealth Concessional loan, the Rural Assistance Authority will continue to administer this loan.

  • Contact telephone: 1800 678 593 if you have any questions about your loan
  • Telephone: 1800 875 675 for eligibility requirements

Australian Tax Office

Profit from forced disposal or death of livestock

You can elect to spread profit earned from the forced disposal or death of livestock over a period of five years.
Alternatively, you can elect to defer the profit and use it to reduce the cost of replacement livestock in the disposal year or any of the next five income years. Any unused part of the profit is included in assessable income in the fifth income year.

If you are forced to shear your sheep a second time in the same financial year there may be an opportunity to carry forward the income from the second shearing.

You can elect to spread or defer profits if you dispose of stock or stock dies because;

  • land is compulsorily acquired or resumed under an Act
  • a state or territory leases land for a cattle tick eradication campaign
  • pasture or fodder is destroyed by fire, drought or flood and you will use the proceeds of the disposal or death mainly to buy replacement stock or maintain breeding stock for the purpose of replacing the livestock
    they are compulsorily destroyed under an Australian law for the control of a disease (including bovine tuberculosis) or they die of such a disease
  • you receive official notification under an Australian law dealing with contamination of property.

For more information, please contact the ATO or your accountant.

Financial Hardships Tax Provisions

The Australian Tax Office has a range of options for farmers experiencing financial hardship such as deferred payment plans.

Contact telephone: 13 72 86

Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner

Small Biz Connect is a quality, personalised and highly subsidised business advisory program for small businesses in NSW, including agribusinesses.

Contact telephone: 1300 134 359

NSW Farmers Association

NSW Farmers Association is a membership organisation representing farmers across NSW. The NSW Farmers advocates on behalf of the NSW industry on key issues that affect farming businesses including biosecurity, farm trespass, animal welfare, imports and product labelling.

The Committee is made up of farmers from across the state, who work throughout the year to ensure the views of NSW farmers are being heard, both at the state and national level.

Contact telephone: (02) 9478 1000

NSW Farmers Drought Network

NSW Farmers’ Drought Network has launched a page to provide service information, links to assistance and services to individuals and families conducting, directly or indirectly, primary production businesses, who are being impacted by drought conditions in NSW.

Australian Pork Limited (APL)

APL is a unique rural industry service body for the Australian pork industry. It is a producer owned company delivering integrated services that enhance the viability of Australia’s pig producers. The organisation aims to enhance opportunities for the sustainable growth of the Australian pork industry by delivering integrated marketing, innovation and policy services along the pork industry supply chain. APL pursues opportunities for the industry at both the domestic and international level.

Contact telephone: 1800 789 099

NSW DPI - Feed Quality Service

Feed Testing is an integral part of good animal nutritional management to achieve the best and most profitable results.

The Feed Quality Service is unique in Australia; it is the only feed testing laboratory that integrates feeds evaluation, ruminant nutrition, and pasture and crop research with commercial feed testing and has links with development officers to package research and related information generated by the service.

FQS currently provides a range of analytical services to internal research programs, external research and commercial organisations, and private individuals (farmers) using both wet chemistry methods and Near Infrared (NIR) Spectroscopy.

FQS also reports calculated feed quality parameters including Metabolisable Energy (ME; ruminants), Apparent Metabolisable Energy (AME; poultry) and Digestible Energy (DE; pigs, horses & fish) (Appendix 3).

Dairy Australia

Dairy farmers navigating the fodder shortage can now access a new Dairy Australia campaign, Feed Shortage 2018, as dry conditions continue. The campaign provides:

  • Free one-on-one sessions with experienced advisors
  • Resources, tools, advice and support to maximise home grown feed in late winter and spring
  • Assists farmers to determine ongoing feed requirements and plan ahead with feed budgeting tools
  • Ensures farmers are up to date with the latest regional and national feed, fodder and water market information to support key decision-making on farm.
  • Guide to relevant Government support available

The feed planning one-on-one sessions will help farm families work through key decisions and identify support available. The sessions are confidential and personalised to reflect each individual farmer’s situation.

Health and wellbeing

For access to local mental health services, please contact the organisations listed below.

  • The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) provides a range of information services to individuals, communities and service providers to link rural and remote people to the help they need. This includes information on where to access services, common mental illnesses and how to keep mentally healthy, as well as the Glove Box Guide to Mental Health.
  • To find the location of your nearest RAMHP Officer call (02) 6363 8444 and they will advise you where you nearest counsellor is.
  • Kids Helpline telephone: 1800 551 800 telephone counselling service 24 hours, seven days a week
  • Community Mental Health Line telephone: 1800 011 511
  • Mensline Australia telephone: 1300 789 978, 24 hours a day, 7 day telephone counselling for men
  • Beyondblue depression information line telephone: 1300 224 636
  • Lifeline telephone: 13 11 14
  • Australian Red Cross The Red Cross provides personal support during a disaster and an outreach service to affected households. TelephoneManaging farm businesses during drought 1800 660 066 or (02) 4941 3200 in the Hunter area.
  • Black Dog Institute telephone: (02) 9382 4530

The Salvation Army

For personal support contact the Salvation Army Rural Chaplains.

To register for assistance please the Salvo's drought page.

For telephone support please call, (02) 8757 8088 (this number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

St Vincent de Paul Rural Task force

Provides personal support, farm visits, advocacy, clothing and some financial assistance. Contact Tel (02) 9560 2666

Managing in drought

If you are reading this information in a printed form, please view managing farm businesses during drought to access the information below:



General Drought Management

  • Managing and preparing for drought
  • a book covering all topics
  • Livestock transport costs calculator
  • Drought Feed Calculator app: Apple iTunes or Google Play

Local Land Services

drought response

  • 2018 drought response

Feeding Livestock

  • Feed and fodder: Requirements for fodder purchased from interstate
  • Video: Drought feeding pregnant and calving cows
  • Strategies, management tips and feeding options.

Water Quality

Farm water quality – testing and treating for stock and domestic use

Preparing for drought




  • Monthly State Seasonal Update
  • Regional Assistance Advisory Committee
  • Combined Drought Indicator


  • Salvaging crops for fodder, grain or grazing - costs and income calculator
  • Canola hay and silage factsheet


  • Pasture sustainability and management in drought


  • Sheep - Feeding and nutrition
  • Beef cattle - Feeding and nutrition
  • Checklist for good beef cattle health and management in drought
  • Using mulga as a forage supplement for livestock in droughts
  • StockPlan   workshops:decision support tools designed to help livestock managers prior to and   during drought conditions

Rural Resilience

  • 2015 Drought Preparedness Survey - summary of results (PDF, 194.78 KB)

Soil Contamination

  • Management of organochlorine and related residues

Rural Women's Network

The Rural Women's Network (RWN) is a state wide government program within the Department of Primary Industries. The small RWN team works in innovative ways to share information and promote action on rural women's issues, often in partnership with individuals, groups and non-government and government agencies.

From meeting at crossroads with drought stricken women in 1992, the NSW Rural Women’s Network continues to reflect and improve how we listen to rural women, link them to information and services and create opportunities that build personal and business resilience and strengthen rural communities.

Combined Drought Indicator (CDI)

This interactive tool provides more detailed seasonal conditions information than ever before. This data will be used to inform policy and Government responses to changing seasonal conditions, including drought.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI)