HOT on the heels of widespread flooding, the NSW Government has announced new measures to help farmers prepare for and manage the impacts of drought.
Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said farm businesses and rural communities were highly exposed to the effects of seasonal conditions, however previous drought policies had not helped farmers prepare for the risks they faced.
"Under old systems, farmers had to wait for a district to be 'drought declared' in order for a range of subsidies to be triggered, by which stage feed supplies were dwindling, water tanks were low and saleyards were receiving increased numbers of drought-affected stock," she said.
"Under this new approach, the NSW Government will focus on supporting farm business preparedness and risk management programs, as well as in-drought measures."
Central to the approach is the new regional assistance advisory committee, which has been set up to provide advice to the minister for primary industries on effective programs including the existing measures of:
- the Rural Financial Counselling Service;
- the Rural Support Worker Program;
- the Special Conservation Scheme;
- transport subsidies; and
- farm business preparedness and resilience programs including PROfarm courses, short and long course training through Tocal College and TAFE.
"The regional assistance advisory committee, chaired by David Palmer, will also oversee the development of new monthly seasonal conditions reports, a strategic advisory tool to help farmers prepare for the seasons ahead," Ms Hodgkinson said.
"Once the format and content of the statewide seasonal conditions report is finalised, a full suite of regional seasonal conditions reports will be developed to match the Local Land Services regions.
"Transport subsidies will also be available to assist in specific cases of animal welfare."
The regional assistance advisory committee will work closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Rural Assistance Authority, rural support workers and the future Local Land Services to provide localised advice on managing seasonal variability.
NSW is the first state to propose changes since the national drought policy framework was released in October 2012.
Full details on these changes, plus the monthly seasonal conditions reports will be posted here www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/info/seasonalconditions
See current drought conditions here.
See the media background here.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.