Labor Leader visits drought affected communities and pledges support for our farmers in tough times

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A NSW Labor Government will introduce a range of measures targeted at helping our farmers in times of drought – with practical in drought assistance measures that will help them get through tough times.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley made the announcement on a tour of drought affected farming communities in north west NSW. Mr Foley was joined by Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Steve Whan and Shadow Minister for Rural & Regional Affairs Mick Veitch as well as farmers from around Lightning Ridge.

Labor understands the devastating impact drought can have on farmers and their families, which is why Labor will:

  • Reintroduce stock and fodder subsidies and transport subsidies for farmers who are affected by longer running drought conditions;
  • Reintroduce drought declarations;
  • Commit $1.5 million to double the number of Rural Support Workers;
  • Commit to the $20 million extension of funding announced for water infrastructure grants; and
  • Lobby the Federal Government to relax eligibility criteria for income support

Under Labor’s plan, farmers who are struggling under the strain of drought will receive practical in drought assistance to help them get through the tough times.

Labor’s plan sits in stark contrast to the record of the Liberals and Nationals over the last four years. In this time the Government has cut drought support by scrapping the tried and trusted drought declaration system, abolishing stock, fodder and transport subsidies for farmers needing to feed and water their livestock and saddling farmers with growing financial debts.

“Farmers have one of the toughest jobs in our community, not only do they have to feed their own families but they work tirelessly to provide food for the rest of us as well – a responsibility that can become overwhelming in the depths of a devastating drought,” Mr Foley said. 

“I believe it’s our communal obligation to support our farmers and farming communities when the rains fail to come.

“Watching crops wither and livestock starve while the bills mount is a horrendous experience which most people in NSW are very fortunate not to have to face. However this is the reality for farmers in drought. 

“I’ve travelled to these drought-affected farming communities to see first hand what the conditions are like – and more importantly to hear first hand how government can help these farmers in times of need.

“A NSW Labor Government will implement a strong plan to give farmers the resources and the financial assistance they need to make it through the drought with the capacity to rebuild their businesses.”

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Steve Whan said it was crucial that the drought declaration system was reinstated so that government and the community had a real sense of who needed assistance and can get on with the job of providing it.

“This system that was scrapped by the Liberals and Nationals and my view is that it was nothing more than a cost cutting exercise dressed up as a “new approach” that fails to provide real support to farmers,”Mr Whan said.

“A Labor Government will provide a subsidy up to 50 per cent of stock, fodder and transport costs to a maximum of $20,000 a year for farmers in drought more nine months or more. This subsidy will assist in the cost of the transport of cattle fodder/or water to a property, stock to and from agistment and stock to sale or slaughter.

“The subsidy scheme recognises that farmers will take action to be drought-ready but even the best plans and preparations will not be enough to get through prolonged drought conditions. Providing a subsidy gives farmers the ability to maintain their stock and recover quickly when the drought finally breaks.

“Labor’s plan to assist farmers in drought is the result of consultation with farmers and advocate groups to ensure that we are providing farmers with the assistance they need to get back on their feet when the rains finally come.”

Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Affairs Mick Veitch said: “One of the real gaps on drought assistance is the lack of partnership from the Federal Government with farmers during times of drought.

“Farmers are frequently ruled out of eligibility for federal income support because of the value of their physical infrastructure and property assets – these are meaningless in a drought when they lie unproductive.

“Labor will be demanding that the Federal Government broaden the eligibility criteria to recognise the unique set of circumstances that farmers face during a drought and his national responsibility to lend a helping hand.”

Read more about Labor's plan to support our farmers in tough times.