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.

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

Drought Transport Subsidies

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

The compounding nature of drought means the Government needs to be agile in the measures it takes to support the state’s farmers.

The NSW Government has always supported transport subsidies for animal welfare. These new emergency measures recognise the incredibly dry start to the year, and the forecasts for little relief in the coming months.

Accordingly, these new transport subsidies have a broader application than just freight for fodder. These measures can also be applied to transporting stock to and from agistment, to sale or slaughter, as well as transporting water for stock.

These measures incentivise the State’s farmers to make whichever decisions are best for them at the time, based on their personal circumstances.

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

The subsidy can cover 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.

No, the transport subsidy applies to transport via road and rail. The same criteria applies for both.

A farmer with an eligible primary industries business, that meets the criteria can claim as needed, when needed for expenses until 30 June 2019.

There is 18 months from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2019 to claim up to the maximum amount over this period. That equals a maximum of $30,000 in transport subsidies.

This means the farmer:

  • Knows there is a set period to claim as the program is currently funded until 30 June 2019
  • 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.

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.

To be eligible, 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.
  • The business is being negatively impacted by drought conditions.
  • The owners and operators of the business do not have gross off-farm assets exceeding $1,000,000 (excluding funds in a registered superannuation fund).
  • Payments will be made on receipt of eligible tax invoices.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

You can apply online via our Emergency Drought Relief online form, or print out an application form, fill it in and send it to the NSW Rural Assistance Authority. You will need to present valid tax invoices for all transport costs, LLS rates notices and an LGA rates notice.

You will need to present a valid tax invoice for all transport costs to apply for a subsidy.

Submit your tax invoices and an RAA assessment officer will contact you if they require further information.

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.

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.

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