Drought-hit communities and farmers will get a significant boost from the Coalition Government’s $709 million drought relief package.

The latest investment in our drought communities was announced by the Prime Minister in Canberra on Thursday.

Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP said the package was designed to support both farmers and regional communities.

“Since the budget we have already committed an additional $355 million to step up our drought response. Yesterday’s announcement triples this to more than $1 billion since the election, as well as more than $1 billion in new interest free loans, to see people through.

“We’ve been back on the ground listening to farmers and their communities, and this package is a direct response to their feedback,” Mr Pasin said.

Farmers in drought will have access to loans of up to $2 million with no interest or repayments for the first two years.

“This will save farmers who refinance thousands of dollars and help them get back on their feet when the drought breaks,” Mr Pasin said.

For the first time businesses that are dependent on agriculture will also be able to access interest-free loans of up to $500 thousand.

“This will protect jobs and make sure our agricultural industry can bounce back once the drought breaks,” Mr Pasin said.

The Federal and South Australian Governments have struck a deal to secure up to 100 gigalitres of water for farmers to grow fodder, silage and pasture at a discounted rate.

“This additional 100 gigalitres can produce up to 120,000 tonnes of fodder which would be a big help to farmers. This will help livestock farmers maintain their breeding stock during the drought so when it breaks farmers can recover faster.

“Nationally, another $378 million will also go into drought-affected community projects and an extra $138.9 million into our Roads to Recovery initiative.

“There’s also $10 million so schools can give concessional fees to families facing drought and a $5 million childcare fund.

“Many families and communities have been doing it tough through this drought, and this package will help everyone get through it.

“It helps to protect jobs and the economy so when the drought breaks we will bounce back faster.”

More information at http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought

Existing support New support
Looking after our farming families here and now
Simplified and expanded access to the Farm Household Allowance and extended it to a 4 in 10 year payment. Households are eligible for around $105,000 as well as an additional payment of $13,000 for couples $3,000 cash payments for families under the Drought Communities Support Initiative Built the National Drought Map so all data and support services are in one place Invested $25 million to help our farmers combat pests and weeds; $2.7 million to improve regional weather and climate guides; and $77.2 million for Bureau of Meteorology radars $2 billion available in concessional loans through the Regional Investment Corporation to help farmers and small businesses prepare for, manage through and recover from drought $5 million for the Rural Financial Counselling Service Making new and existing drought loans for farmers interest free for two years so they purchase fodder, pay for freight and pay their farm hands. Years three to five will be interest only payment and years six to 10 will be interest and principal. Current scheme is the first five years are interest only payments, and interest and principal payments for the balance of the loan term A new program for small businesses dependent on agriculture with loans worth up to $500,000 that can be used to pay staff, buy equipment and refinance. It follows the same new payment scheme as the Drought Loans for farmers $10 million to support schools facing financial hardship as a result of ongoing drought conditions, including fee concessions for boarding students $5 million from the Community Child Care Fund will help assist centres that are experiencing decreased demand and financial pressure due to families from drought-affected areas being unable to pay for child care
Supporting jobs and investment in local communities
$1 million for 122 councils and shires in drought-affected areas to invest in projects that support jobs and business income $30 million for targeted mental health support $50 million funding for major charities to assist rural Australians in desperate need with up to $3,000 in individual support payments An additional $1 million for each of the 122 drought-affected councils and shires if they need it $1 million each for new drought-affected councils and shires including Greater Hume, Hilltops, Lockhart and Upper Lachlan in NSW, and Kangaroo Island and Tatiara in SA $50 million discretionary fund to support projects in Local Government Areas impacted by the drought Redirecting $200 million into a Building Better Regions Fund drought round to support new projects that deliver social and economic benefits to drought-affected communities $138.9 million additional Roads to Recovery funding in calendar year 2020 for the 128 Local Government Areas eligible for the Drought Communities Programme Extension
Long term resilience
Future Drought Fund worth $5 billion to be a sustainable source of funding to improve drought resilience and preparedness $1.5 billion for 21 dams, irrigation projects and pipelines across Australia 100 gigalitres of water that will be used to grow up to 120,000 tonnes of fodder as well as silage and pasture to secure supplies for the months ahead.

Media Contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8531 2466