Labor to bring back drought declarations

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Originally published: The Land, 9 February 2015

NSW LABOR has pledged to reintroduce drought declarations and transport subsidies for stock and fodder.

The new policy, announced over the weekend and in the lead-up to the March 28 State election, followed the Coalition's $300 million drought funding package last week.

Labor's subsidies would cover up to 50 per cent of stock, fodder and transport costs to a maximum of $20,000 a year for farmers in drought for nine months or more

Opposition leader Luke Foley made the announcement which he said delivered " practical drought assistance" to help farmers get through the tough times.

“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 fall to come."

Other elements of the policy included $1.5 million to double the number of Rural Support Workers and and extra $20 million for water infrastructure grants.

Labor would also lobby the Federal Government to relax eligibility criteria for income support.

Labor's spokesman 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 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," he said.

“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."

Originally published as: Labor to bring back drought declarations