FLOOD recovery grants of up to $75,000 jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales Governments are available to assist farmers revive local food and fibre production in flood affected regions.
NSW Farmers president James Jackson said the damage bill from flooding on the north coast, Sydney basin and north west regions was likely to run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Our members are starting to count the immense cost of the damage, with a substantial impact on crops, pastures, infrastructure, oyster production and livestock losses,” Mr Jackson said.
“This event has had a major impact on our oyster growers. Most in the north coast region will have significant clean-up costs and no income into the foreseeable future due to stock losses and closed estuaries.”
“Mother nature has thrown it all at our farmers in recent years. Many farmers now face a long flood recovery process after getting through drought, bushfires and a global pandemic.”
“There are now 63 local government areas declared as natural disaster areas due to flooding and over half of these were declared natural disaster areas following the 2019-20 bushfires.”
The primary producer flood recovery grants of up to $75,000 aim to provide short-term targeted assistance for recovery and reinstatement activities, including salvaging crops and repairs to damaged farm infrastructure (e.g. fencing) and equipment.
“The Rural Assistance Authority will administer the grants, with details and eligibility available mid-week,” Mr Jackson said.
“For some, especially fruit growers with permanent plantings, the direct flood impact may not be known until the soil dries out. It will be important that eligibility for these grants recognises the delay of the onset of direct flood impacts across the diversity of farming enterprises.”
The Australian and NSW Governments are also funding clean-up for households, businesses, primary producers and local councils affected by the floods and include both insured and uninsured properties.
National Farmers Federation (NFF) chief executive Tony Mahar said it was too early to determine the exact extent of the flood damage but it was significant.
“Farmers lost livestock, had pastures and infrastructure inundated and were cut off from their communities,” he said.
“It’s an incredibly tough time with many of the affected farmers still recovering from drought.”
Mr Mahar said the NFF was in close contact with NSW Farmers to determine the support farmers would need in the coming weeks and months.
“With this in mind we’ve spoken with the Minister for Agriculture and Natural Disaster, David Littleproud and NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall, both have committed to continue to assist farmers through this difficult time.
“Roads have been particularly hard hit. The NFF stresses that federal, state and local government cooperation is essential to ensure roads are as soon as possible opened and returned to a safe condition.”
In addition to the Federal/State assistance, Rural Aid is also offering a special $1000 emergency payment to farmers impacted by flood. Applications will be processed within 14 days. To apply visit https://faa.ruralaid.org.au/farmer-registration/
Mr Mahar encouraged farmers to visit the NFF’s Farmhub website www.farmhub.org.au for the latest flood support and to access a range of general business and wellbeing resources.
Sources: NSW Farmers, NFF