National Farmers' Federation

Farmers welcome Government's ramped up drought support

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson says new Federal Government drought relief in the form of tax write-offs, low interest loans, faster processing of applications for help and support for regional communities are welcomed.
Speaking from Forbes, NSW, Hon Prime Minister Turnbull MP with Deputy Prime Minister Hon Michael McCormack MP, Agriculture Minister, Hon David Littleproud MP and Minister for Regional Development Hon John McVeigh MP, today announced a second significant tranche of drought support, including:
* Immediate accelerated depreciation provisions for fodder infrastructure valued at $75 million;
* An expansion of low interest loans on offer from $1 million to $2 million through the recently-established Regional Investment Corporation;
* Additional staffing to faster process Farm Household Allowance applications;
* Support for drought-affected communities with $75 million for local government water projects;
* $23.7 million for new bores across the Great Artesian Basin;
* $72 million for a special drought round of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund; and
* $2.7 million for enhanced long term forecasting via the Bureau of Meteorology’s regional climate guides.
Today’s announcement takes the Federal Government’s drought support investment to $1.8 billion and includes the appointment of Major General Stephen Day to the position of Drought Coordinator. Major General Day’s role will involve liaising with Governments, charities, donors and communities to coordinate drought assistance and to identify gaps and risks.
“We look forward to working with Major General Day in this important role,” Ms Simson said.
Many of the measures announced today are available to all farmers, regardless of income and asset base, and will deliver a valuable recouping of costs, at a time when cash flow is low.
Under the new taxation measures farmers can claim costs expended on fodder storage, such as silos and hay sheds, after one year as opposed to three. These measures complement the existing small business write-off measures for assets over $20,000, continued in this year’s Federal Budget.
Eligible farm businesses will also benefit from low-interest loans of up to $2 million to support livestock feeding programs and/or to provide a cash buffer for farmers who have had little to no income, in some instances, for several years.
Farmers with existing bank loans can refinance to save thousands of dollars due to the lower interest rate (principal-only repayments for five years), and farmers with government loans will also be able to refinance to take advantage of the interest-only concessional period if they wish.
New bores across the Great Artesian Basin and more money for long-term forecasting are also welcomed to increase the resilience and preparedness of farmers for droughts into the future.
“It’s also great to see support forthcoming for our regional communities, who always do it tough when the farm sector falls on hard times,” Ms Simson said.
Today’s announcement adds to the suite of assistance already in place at a Federal level.
A fortnight ago, the Prime Minister announced a one-off payment of up to $12,000 for farming families eligible to receive the Farm Household Allowance. Earlier in the year, the duration farmers can receive the FHA was extended from three years to four.
“Importantly today’s measures include the appointment of more staff to process FHA applications faster and a reduction in the required documentation,” Ms Simson said.
“From the Prime Minister down, the Government understands the hardship many farmers are facing.
“At the end of the day, the only silver bullet is rain. While we wait for the Mother Nature to deliver, Federal and State Government assistance packages and those offered by charitable organisations are welcomed to assist our farmers doing it tough.
“I urge all farmers to take advantage of the measures announced today and to check their eligibility for all appropriate assistance available,” Ms Simson said.

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