Australia

New drought assistance package a ‘step in the right direction’, Dubbo farmer says

A central west farmer has mixed feelings about the government's new drought assistance package that was announced this week. In May, the Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall and Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders visited Mr Ryan's Dubbo property 'Belmont' to announce that a new drought support package would soon be available. On June 12, they visited the Dubbo farm again for an update on the drought support measures. At the time of the inaugural visit, Mr Ryan said he would like to see the government address off-farm income issues in their new drought support package. While Mr Ryan was pleased to see that you don't have to go through the process of applying for assistance again, he was disappointed that off-farm support had not been addressed. "The fact that if you've already been approved you don't have to go through the process again is a definite improvement from my point of view," he said. "I don't think it (off-farm) has been (addressed) to the point where it potentially should be. … I think in time if this drought continues there's going to be more pressure on farming families to have some sort of off-farm income. I know in our case it's definite and a lot of other locals are the same. "I think there's been some steps in the right direction but to see greater uptake of it all, potentially, that maybe that needs to be looked at again further." ALSO MAKING NEWS: Sheep killed after falling out of moving stock vehicle on way to sale Despite this Mr Ryan said you can't expect a "miracle overnight". "Adam has been in the job for eight weeks…. the fact that people are getting out regionally and having a look around is good," he said. "It takes time and I think there's some steps in the right direction." Another new incentive included in the package was that Farm Innovation Fund loans had increased from up to $250,000 to $1 million and there will be no minimum or maximum distance caps on transport subsidy claims. Mr Ryan said through the package they can now access funds to do apply exclusion fencing. READ ALSO: NSW Small Business Commissioner urges big business to support rural communities The Minister for Western NSW said the recently announced drought package is more inclusive than ever before. "As I tripped around the state in the last six weeks what I observed is that circumstances are so different in different parts of the state. You need to be inclusive or make sure that everyone can access something," Mr Marshall said. "You've got to have a package that's very flexible that can be adapted to individual circumstances. That's what we've tried to do." Mr Marshall said the government was never going to completely ease 100 per cent of the drought burden. "The fact is these droughts are terrible things, we can't make it go away but the idea is to try and provide targeted support to try and help farmers stay on the land, get through the drought and come out and still be on-farm at the other end," he said. The Minister for Western NSW described the previous drought tour as a success after talking to Dubbo farmer Peter Ryan and other farmers on the tour. "Based on what he said and a number of other people said that is reflected in the changes that we've made. That will hopefully benefit Peter," he said. ALSO MAKING NEWS: Central West temperatures above winter average | Graph, radar Mr Marshall said coming back out to western NSW evokes mixed feelings. "I would of loved to have come out to see conditions have improved, (but) they haven't, they've continued to deteriorate," he said "But (I'm) pleased in the fact that some of the things that Peter was talking about last time when I was here we've been able to take on board as a government deliver or change as part of the new drought package." Mr Marshall said the drought package wasn't just about providing extra money, but about freeing up some criteria and is more flexible. "Now that this drought has gone on a lot longer the circumstances that individual farmers are in are very, very different. Not just region to region, but sometimes property to property, so you need that flexibility," he said. "You don't need to be prescriptive as a government because what that does is it actually means that sometimes the assistance doesn't get to the people that need it because …. they might sit just outside the prescriptive criteria.

A central west farmer has mixed feelings about the government's new drought assistance package that was announced this week.

In May, the Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall and Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders visited Mr Ryan's Dubbo property 'Belmont' to announce that a new drought support package would soon be available.

At the time of the inaugural visit, Mr Ryan said he would like to see the government address off-farm income issues in their new drought support package.

While Mr Ryan was pleased to see that you don't have to go through the process of applying for assistance again, he was disappointed that off-farm support had not been addressed.

"The fact that if you've already been approved you don't have to go through the process again is a definite improvement from my point of view," he said.

"I don't think it (off-farm) has been (addressed) to the point where it potentially should be. … I think in time if this drought continues there's going to be more pressure on farming families to have some sort of off-farm income. I know in our case it's definite and a lot of other locals are the same.

"I think there's been some steps in the right direction but to see greater uptake of it all, potentially, that maybe that needs to be looked at again further."

Despite this Mr Ryan said you can't expect a "miracle overnight".

"Adam has been in the job for eight weeks…. the fact that people are getting out regionally and having a look around is good," he said.

"It takes time and I think there's some steps in the right direction."

Another new incentive included in the package was that Farm Innovation Fund loans had increased from up to $250,000 to $1 million and there will be no minimum or maximum distance caps on transport subsidy claims.

Mr Ryan said through the package they can now access funds to do apply exclusion fencing.

The Minister for Western NSW said the recently Read More – Source

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Nyngan Observer

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