Emergency Drought Relief Package

What is available?

Who is eligible?

Do I need to apply?

Drought Transport Subsidies

FAQs

Eligible farming businesses needing assistance with incurred costs of transporting fodder, water for stock to a property, stock to and from agistment, and stock to sale or slaughter can apply (this applies to road and rail).

Yes. Apply online or contact:

  • the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593

Waivers on government fees and charges

Local Land Services Rates

FAQs

The NSW Government will waive LLS rates for all landholders for 2019.

No. This waiver will apply automatically.

Class 1 agricultural conditional registration fees

FAQs

The waiver of registration fees applies to new registrations and renewals of Class 1 agricultural vehicles that are oversize and/or overmass.

Yes Find more information via Service NSW.

Fixed charges for water licences

FAQs

The NSW Government will provide financial assistance of up to $4,000 to all general security licence holders (and supplementary water access licence holders) in rural and regional NSW across surface and groundwater systems.

No. This waiver will apply automatically.

Farm Innovation Fund interest

FAQs

All existing Farm Innovation Fund customers, and all applicants who submitted an application on or before 30 July 2018.

No. The refund will be applied and processed automatically.

The NSW Government has announced a $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package to help farmers manage the effects of the current drought.

The three major elements of the $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package are:

  • $190 million for Drought Transport Subsidies;
  • $100 million to cut the cost of farming by waiving fees and charges; and,
  • $150 million to bolster the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF) infrastructure program.

The package also includes funding for:

  • Counselling and mental health;
  • Critical services in regional communities including transporting water and drought related road upgrades and repairs; and,
  • Animal welfare and stock disposal.

Media release: More than $1 billion in support to help farmers through worsening drought (PDF, 179.25 KB)

Drought Transport Subsidies

The NSW Government will offer a transport subsidy of up to $20,000 per eligible farm business.

The transport subsidy of $20,000 per eligible farm business per year equates up to $30,000 over 18 months from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2019.

The subsidy is back-dated so farmers can apply it for freight expenses incurred since 1 January 2018.

It covers 50% of the full cost of freight up to a maximum of $5 per kilometre and 1,500 kilometres per journey.

The subsidy can be applied for the cost of transporting fodder, water to a property for stock, stock to and from agistment, and stock to sale or slaughter.

The subsidy will be back-dated so farmers can access subsidies for freight expenses incurred since 1 January 2018.

Applications available online or contact the NSW RAA for more information.


Freight Watch

The NSW Government has announced a State Drought Transport Subsidy Integrity Advisor (PDF, 153.64 KB) to spearhead monitoring of the program and freight prices.

To report concerns around the cost of freight and fodder, email freightwatch@dpi.nsw.gov.au or submit online.

Details entered will be sent directly to the Freight Watch Integrity Advisor.

So we can get back in contact your phone and email are compulsory fields.

Privacy Statement

Your privacy is protected under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998. Visit the Privacy Policy for more information about how the Department manages your personal information.

Heavy vehicle access

The NSW Government has announced changes to support access for heavy vehicles carrying larger loads, to safely and efficiently move feed, water, and stock in response to drought conditions.

The changes allow for an increase in hay capacity of 21% compared to the current general access vehicles.

The changes include:

  • Allow eligible vehicles transporting hay to travel under notice and without a permit, including B-doubles up to 26 metres long
    • Up to 2.83 metres wide on all approved roads
    • Up to 4.6 metres high, on the approved 4.6 metre high network
  • On a case-by-case basis, allow access permits for road trains on roads not currently approved for road trains
  • An extra $15 million has already been committed for road maintenance
  • On a case-by-case basis, provide access permits for trucks transporting loads of hay in excess of 4.6 metres high
  • Refund National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and Roads and Maritime permit fees for drought relief applications
  • A dedicated hotline (1800 952 292) and Freight to drought areas website for any questions or queries transport operators or farmers may have

More information

For more information visit the RMS Freight to drought areas page.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

On Monday 30 July 2018, the NSW Government announced a $500 million NSW Emergency Drought Relief Package to help farmers manage the effects of the current drought.

The three major elements of the $500 million NSW Emergency Drought Relief Package are:

  • $190 million for Drought Transport Subsidies
  • $100 million for cutting the cost of farming fees and charges – by waiving Local Land Services rates, waiving fixed water charges in rural and regional areas, and waiving class one agricultural vehicle registration costs
  • $150 million to bolster the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF) infrastructure program

The package also includes funding for:

  • Counselling and mental health;
  • Critical services in regional communities, including transporting water and drought related road upgrades and repairs
  • Animal welfare and stock disposal.

This takes the total NSW Government Drought Assistance Package to $1.1 Billion.

In 2015, the NSW Government launched its $300 million Drought Strategy focusing on preparedness, improved decision making and targeted support for rural communities. In the NSW Budget 2018, the Government boosted drought assistance by $284 million.

With 99 per cent of the State now in drought the NSW Government has today announced further support for farmers with an additional $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package, taking the total Drought Assistance Package to more than $1 billion.

The continuing and compounding effects of the current drought mean NSW has now had its driest start to a year since 1982. The NSW Government has assessed the conditions and announced the Emergency Drought Relief Package to ease financial pressure on farmers and support the communities affected.

The package is effective immediately. It includes a range of measures, some of which retrospectively apply to the 2017/18 financial year, and some from 1 January 2018. The NSW Rural Assistance Authority will start processing Transport Subsidy applications from 6 August 2018.

Department of Primary Industries will implement the proposed measures in consultation and collaboration with Department of Industry, Roads & Maritime Services, NSW Health, Service NSW, Water NSW, Local Land Services, the Department of Premier and Cabinet and NSW Treasury.

  • Visit DroughtHub
  • call the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593
    • for information regarding Drought Transport Subsidies and all other financial assistance
  • contact Local Land Services on 1300 795 299
    • for information regarding animal husbandry and welfare

Farm Household Support

Income support for eligible farmers and their partners for up to three years, as well as planning and training for long-term fnancial improvements, including:

  • Income support allowance,
  • a dedicated case management to help develop a plan for the future and address challenges facing the business and household,
  • up to $1,500 to carry out a financial assessment of their farm enterprise, and
  • ongoing support from the Rural Financial Counselling Service.

Call 132 316 for more information.

Information about what is included in the transport subsidy, how to apply and more. Visit the water section.

On 19 August 2018 the NSW Government announced a partnership with not-for-profit GIVIT, as an official partner to manage offers of assistance (items and/or money) for farmers, their families and rural communities experiencing hardship due to the current drought.

By working with hundreds of local charities, schools and community service providers, GIVIT will connect those who need help with those willing to give.

This partnership will help ensure the donations that are coming in are matched with the people for whom they will do the most good.

Drought Transport Subsidies

The NSW Government has always supported transport subsidies as they impact on the welfare of animals during drought.The subsidy applies to road or rail transport. It can be applied to the transport of fodder, water for stock and livestock to pasture, slaughter or sale.

The NSW Government is committed to continually assessing conditions and listening to our farmers. The effects of the current drought is continuing and compounding and NSW has had its driest start since 1982. The emergency drought relief measures offered in 2018/19 are in recognition of the the severity of this drought event.

The Emergency Drought Relief Package includes $190 million for Drought Transport Subsidies.

To be eligible (PDF, 144.43 KB), primary producers must demonstrate that:

  • They are the owner and operator of a farm business in NSW
  • The business operates as a sole trader, partnership, trust or private company and trades agricultural products.The business is registered with the Australian Taxation Office as a primary producer, and have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • The owners and operators of the business earn more than 50% of their gross income from the primary production enterprise under normal seasonal circumstances.   Businesses in the “New Entrant” category are exempt from this criteria (see below)
  • The business is being negatively impacted by drought conditions
  • The owners and operators of the business do not have gross off-farm assets exceeding $5,000,000 (excluding funds in a registered superannuation fund)
  • Payments will be made on receipt of eligible tax invoices.

When assessing eligibility (PDF, 144.43 KB) for the Drought Transport Subsidy program, a new entrant is considered as any farming operation that commenced between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2018.

When assessing eligibility for the Farm Innovation Fund or the Drought Assistance Fund, the “new entrant” category refers to any farming business that began operations 12 months to three years prior to the date of application.

The “new entrant” category has been added to recognise and support people new to farming who would otherwise be ineligible for some drought assistance measures while they build their business.

The NSW Government is offering eligible (PDF, 144.43 KB) farm businesses a transport subsidy of up to $20,000 per year. As this subsidy is available from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2019, the total subsidy amount available is $30,000 over the 18 month period.

The subsidy is back-dated so eligible farmers can access subsidies for freight expenses incurred since 1 January 2018.

The subsidy covers up to 50% of the full cost of freight up to a maximum of $5 per kilometre (+GST) and 1,500 kilometres per journey, so the maximum subsidy per journey would be $3,750.

For example:

  • cattle farmer based in Dubbo purchases a truck-load of hay from outside Bordertown, South Australia
  • journey is 1,000 kilometres at a cost of $5 per kilometre
  • farmer pays $5,000
  • the farmer will receive a $2,500 Transport Subsidy from the Government if he has not reached the subsidy cap and meets other criteria.

To be able to claim the subsidy, the farmer:

  • has flexibility across the 18 months period to claim as needed, when needed, according to farm management decisions and the season, to either de-stock, sell or transport fodder/water to sustain livestock
  • must keep tax invoices that include the journey distance and rate for freight
  • should seek professional advice about taxation and other financial implications when applying for a transport subsidy.
  • understands the program is currently funded until 30 June 2019

You can apply online via the Rural Assistance Authority website.

Help is available: Staff at Local Land Services offices, 37 Service NSW branches and some Rural Financial Counselling centres are available to assist you with your application. NSW DPI have developed a map of available locations and helpful links.

You can only apply for the subsidy after you have received a valid tax invoice.

You can make a claim on incurred costs from 1 January 2018 providing you can produce a tax invoice for applicable transport.

Yes, providing you are still within the subsidy cap of $20,000 per eligible farm business per year, which equates up to $30,000 over 18 months from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2019.

For invoices issued prior to 6 August 2018 that do not itemise transport costs the Rural Assistance Authority DOES NOT require those invoices to be reissued.

Where necessary the RAA will request additional information from the supplier to verify either the cost of the specific transport or the rate per km utilised. This could be provided via email directly to the RAA or via the applicant.

If needed the RAA may ask the farmer to complete a statutory declaration however this will be on rare occasions where the transport costs cannot be identified in any other way.

No. The subsidy applies to transport costs of any stock.

Yes. Owner carriers are eligible for the transport of their own livestock and must provide proof of sale or slaughter, registration papers and travelling stock statement.

The subsidy applies up to a maximum distance of 1,500 kilometres per journey.

This relief measure is backdated to 1 January 2018 when the drought intensified, especially in the Upper Hunter and Western NSW. This means eligible farmers who made the decision to destock will still benefit from this new relief package.

Assets held within the trust would be considered off farm assets unless the trust is used to operate the farming enterprise.

As individual circumstances vary, we strongly encourage applicants to seek professional advice as to taxation and other financial implications when applying for a transport subsidy. Contact the ATO Small Business Hotline on 13 28 66 for more information.

Go to the Assistance Near You page on Drought Hub to check your eligibility, find staff near you who are available to help, watch a video about how to apply or call the Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593.

Rate relief and cost reduction measures (Cutting the cost of farming)

If the drought continues to bite through spring, the dry conditions will have more severe direct impacts on the financial performance of farmers throughout NSW, who are trying to manage their property and livestock. The government has introduced a number of new measures to help reduce the financial pressure on farmers and farm businesses.

Waiver of Local Land Services (LLS) rates

The NSW Government will waive LLS rates for all landholders for 2019.

All LLS rates, including General Rates and Rates for Animal Health and Pests, the Meat Industry Levy, and costs of Routine Stock Moving Permit and Stock Identification will be waived for 2019.

All landholders will receive a rate notice for 2019 in January detailing the charges that would normally be payable that year. The notice will show that the NSW Government’s Emergency Drought Relief Package has paid the rates for 2019.

The waiver applies to 2019 rates only.  Refunds for 2018 rates are not available. It is understood that some drought affected farmers may be having difficulty paying 2018 rates. If this is the case, please contact your nearest Local Land Services Office to discuss options, which may include a payment plan tailored to your individual circumstances.

No. This waiver will apply automatically. Contact Local Land Services for more information on 1300 795 299.

The NSW Government will contribute funding to compensate this lost revenue.

Class 1 agricultural conditional registration fees

To give farmers and their families some much needed drought relief we’re waiving registration charges on Class 1 agricultural vehicles at the time of their next annual registration. For more information visit Roads and Maritime Services.

Contact Service NSW for more information.

Rebate on fixed charges for water licences

A rebate of up to $4,000 per licence will apply to the fixed component of bills for general security licence holders (and supplementary water access licence holders) in rural and regional NSW across surface and ground water systems, and to customers of Irrigation Corporation Districts (ICDs) for water entitlement costs incurred by customers of the ICDs (e.g. Government pass through costs such as WAMC & WaterNSW fixed entitlement charges).

The majority of eligible general security licence holders (95%), excluding customers of ICDs, will receive a rebate of the entire amount of fixed charges.

High security licence holders for regulated river systems and government entities are not eligible for this rebate.

Licence holders in rural and regional NSW will have the fixed charge component of their next water licence allocation waived.

Yes. Groundwater and unregulated surface water customers with annual bills will receive the credit on their next annual bill (for 2017/18).

Regulated surface water customers on quarterly bills will receive a credit on their next four quarterly bills.

No. A rebate of up to $4,000 will be applied to the fixed entitlement charge component of water bills.

Waiver of Farm Innovation Fund interest

All existing Farm Innovation Fund customers, and all applicants who submitted an application on or before 30 July 2018 will have applicable interest charges for the 2017/18 financial year and 2018/19 financial year refunded.

No. The refund will be applied and processed automatically.

The refund will be a separate transaction and there is no requirement to change any existing loan details.

Contact the NSW RAA or phone 1800 678 593.

Delivery of support services

In addition to economic impacts, the drought has also increased mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in rural communities and households about immediate circumstances and future prospects, increasing the vulnerability of families and children.

Funding will improve access to and delivery of mental health services in rural and remote communities. This includes expansion of the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program to support communities facing hardship.

Yes, this funding is in addition to the $4 million allocated to rural mental health services in the NSW state budget.

Critical services in regional communities

As a result of the drought, water storage levels have decreased to 39.5 percent and local roads are rapidly deteriorating across the State. To maintain the regional infrastructure that is critical to regional and remote communities the Government is allocating funding to improving council roads and water transport, including utilities and household water. This includes emergency water supply funding and drought related road upgrades and repairs.

Water

This funding is available for utility and household water.

This funding is available to people reliant on non-town water only.

The details on how to apply will be communicated as soon as possible.

Household Water Supply

With drought conditions affecting NSW, some council areas are opening water filling points for households to collect water for domestic and stock use. If you are carting water for domestic purposes, check with your local Council that you are using a potable water standpipe.

Drinking water from potable water filling stations complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and is safe to drink without further treatment. It is essential to collect water into clean containers to make sure it remains safe to use. Do not use containers that have previously held chemicals or fuel.

Follow the steps below to ensure your water remains safe:

  • Use a suitable container that has not held hazardous substances
  • If the container hasn’t been used for a while, rinse any hoses and taps, other fittings, and the inside of the tank with drinking water before filling
  • Seal the tank and hoses to protect from contamination during transport
  • Ideally, tanks should be cleaned before refilling. If cleaning is not possible, fill carefully to try not to stir sediment at the base of the tank.
  • Contact your local Public Health Unit for advice on 1300 066 055 if you have already topped up your household tank and you are not sure of the quality.

You should follow the NSW Guidelines for Water Carters (NSW Health).

By following these Guidelines, a water carter will be considered to have developed a Quality Assurance Program as required by the Public Health Act 2010 and the Public Health Regulation 2012.

  • Conditions of use and access vary across council regions. Please contact your local council for more information.
  • Find your local council’s contact details
  • Some council regions have published information about water filling stations on their website. The below table lists these councils and provides links to their webpages.

Council region

Website link to information about water filling stations

Albury City Council

https://www.alburycity.nsw.gov.au/environment-and-waste/water-supply-and-management/residential-customers/bulk-water-filling-stations

Ballina Shire Council

http://www.ballinawater.com.au/council-water-services/water-filling-stations.html

Bathurst Regional Council

https://www.bathurst.nsw.gov.au/water-cartage-hereford-street.html

Bega Valley Shire Council

https://www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/default/page.asp?p=DOC-OWR-54-47-20

Bellingen Shire Council

https://www.bellingen.nsw.gov.au/works-services/water-and-sewer/works-services/water-and-sewer/becoming-authorised-water-carter

Blayney Shire Council

http://www.blayney.nsw.gov.au/residents/water/water

Coffs Harbour City Council

http://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Building-and-Planning/development-approval/Pages/approvals-under-section-68.aspx

Dubbo Regional Council

https://www.dubbo.nsw.gov.au/our-region-and-environment/water--sewerage-and-drainage/water-filling-stations-water-carters

Greater Hume Council

http://www.greaterhume.nsw.gov.au/CouncilServices/WaterSewerage/tabid/128/Default.aspx

Lachlan Shire Council

http://www.lachlan.nsw.gov.au/all-news-items/bathurst-street-standpipe-to-commence-operations-through-avdata-system.aspx

Parkes Shire Council

https://www.parkes.nsw.gov.au/environment/water/standpipes/

Riverina Water County Council

http://www.rwcc.nsw.gov.au/customer-service/water-filling-stations

Tamworth Shire Council

http://www.tamworth.nsw.gov.au/Water-and-Sewerage/Water-Supplies/Water-Refill-Station/Water-Refill-Station

http://www.tamworth.nsw.gov.au/Water-and-Sewerage/Metered-Standpipe-hire

Temora Shire Council

http://www.gwcc.nsw.gov.au/Community/Standpipes

Roads

Poor sections of road, particularly those with corrugate, can have a huge impact on poor condition stock being transported and can add extra time to trips.

All council roads are eligible. The application for funding will be communicated direct to Councils.

Animal husbandry and welfare

In order to manage the animal welfare impacts of drought the Government is allocating funding to implement Stock Welfare Panel interventions, including a Stock Disposal Scheme.

A stock welfare panel is a group of experts established to provide expert care and advice to stockowners so they can address animal welfare concerns. The panel has the capacity to investigate and report on the state of animals on a particular property and issue directions for their care to the landholder.

Authorities have the option to remove and dispose of livestock where animal cruelty offences have been identified, sometimes after information from the community. This can only occur after the owner or person responsible has failed to take action to improve the welfare of the animals on the advice of a Stock Welfare Panel.

The NSW Emergency Drought Relief Package includes resources for the creation of a Stock Disposal Scheme to relieve the burden on farmers who are managing drought affected stock.

Bee site permit waiver

To provide relief to beekeepers during the current drought conditions the NSW Government is waiving annual fees for existing beekeeping permits on public land.

Fees are being waived for 12 months: for payments during the 2018/2019 financial year. Annual LLS apiary site permits from July 2018 to June 2019, Forestry Corporation NSW from October 2018 to September 2019 and NPWS from January 2019 to December 2019.

The waiver applies to annual permit fees for existing permits including: LLS apiary site permits, Forestry Corporation NSW apiary permits and NPWS apiary licenses and permits.

The fee waiver provides relief for existing permit holders at the date of the announcement. Any new apiary permits issued during 2018/19 will pay the standard annual fee of $175 + GST subject to a CPI increase.

LLS apiary site permits: A refund will be provided for any permits already paid for the July 2018 to June 2019 period. This will be provided via an electronic transfer after you provide  your banking details to your local LLS regional apiary contact.

Forestry Corporation NSW apiary permits: Annual fees for existing permits for the period October 2018 to September 2019 will be issued free of charge.  This includes Crown Lands sites with Forestry permits.

NPWS apiary licenses and permits: Annual fees for permits for the period January 2019 to December 2019 will be issued free of charge.

LLS apiary site permits: You will be issued a credit adjustment and receive a new invoice showing zero balance owing for the 18-19 financial year.

If you have further questions about the Fee waivers please contact apiary.sites@dpi.nsw.gov.au

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