Frequently Asked Questions

General

Drought Assistance Packages

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

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 package takes the total NSW Government Drought Assistance Package to $1.1 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 emergency package was announced on 30 July 2018 and became 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 started processing Transport Subsidy applications from 6 August 2018.

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

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. Visit the Available Drought Assistance in NSW page on Drought Hub for more details of available rate waivers and subsidies.

Critical services to 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.

The NSW Government recognises that this is a very difficult time for farming families and their communities. Serious mental health and wellbeing issues are often hidden and can include depression, anxiety, relationship breakdown and suicide.

Across the state, the NSW Government is providing practical support through the Local Land Services and Rural Assistance Authority, and financial and emotional support through the Rural Financial Counselling service and NSW Rural Resilience Program. Visit Available drought assistance in NSW on Drought Hub for all support services and tools available to NSW farmers and their families.

To find an office or service in your area, search the Assistance Near You map on Drought Hub.

If you or someone you know would like additional support or a person to talk to, the following organisations are available 24 hours a day to assist:

Financial assistance

Drought Transport Subsidies

The Emergency Drought Relief Package, announced on 30 July 2018,  includes $190 million for a Drought Transport Subsidy.  The subsidy allows farmers to claim a portion of their transport costs from the government.  The subsidy applies to the transport of fodder, water for stock or domestic use, and livestock to pasture, slaughter or sale. The subsidy applies to road or rail transport.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Waivers

Who does the Local Land Services rate waiver apply to?

The NSW Government will waive LLS rates for all landholders for 2019. You do not need to apply for this waiver - it will be applied automatically.  For more information, contact LLS on 1300 795 299.

Which Local Land Services rates will be waived?

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.

Will I still receive a Local Land Services rate notice?

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.

Does the LLS waiver apply to unpaid rates from previous years?

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.

How will Local Land Services be funded in 2019 if no rates are collected?

The NSW Government will compensate for the lost revenue.

Why are registration fees on Class 1 agricultural vehicles being waived?

To give farmers and their families some much needed drought relief the NSW Government is waiving registration charges on Class 1 agricultural vehicles at the time of their next annual registration. For more information visit Service NSW for more details.

What do 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

Where do I get more information?

For more information visit the RMS Freight to drought areas page

Who is eligible for a rebate on fixed charges on 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 groundwater 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.

Will I receive a water licence bill?

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.

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

Who is eligible of the Farm Investment Fund interest waiver?

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.

Do I need to apply for the Farm Innovation Fund interest waiver?

No. The refund will be applied and processed automatically.

How does this FIF interest waiver impact on the term and repayments for my loan?

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

For more information contact NSW Rural Assistance Authority or call 1800 678 593

Why are bee site permit fees being waived?

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

How long are the fees being waved for?

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.

What permits does the fee waiver apply to?

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.

Will new site permits (e.g. issued through an EOI) be free of charge?

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.

I have already paid for my permit this year. Will I get a refund?

  • 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.

If I have yet to pay my invoice what do I do?

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

Services and Tools

Farm Tracker - A guide for farmers

Farm Tracker is a simple tool farmers can use to record seasonal conditions, taking the hassle out of record keeping. Farm Tracker allows you to:

  • Complete a simple crop, pasture or animal survey
  • Keep and manage a photo diary of your farm
  • Monitor the same paddock over many years
  • Reports can be completed in a few minutes and they are synchronised with a personal database as well as the statewide database when within mobile or wi-fi range.

Read more and download the app from Farm Tracker - A guide for farmers.

Why has the government committed funding to 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.

What will the support service funding be allocated to?

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.

Visit the Wellbeing page on Drought Hub for more information

Is this new support service funding?

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

Does the NSW Government have an official charity partner to help support farmers?

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  connects 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 who need them most.

To donate to GIVIT or register items that you need, visit GIVIT.

Managing Drought

Household water supply

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

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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