South Australian drought affected farmers will get extra support through a dedicated $21 million package announced by the Marshall Liberal Government today.
The Drought Support Program will help farmers and families who need it most, providing immediate support through a council rate rebate and pastoral lease rent relief, expanding the Rural Financial Counselling Service and increasing the Family and Business mentor program, while also supporting long term resilience through an expansion of the On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme.
Premier Steven Marshall said the State Government has listened to farmers and communities impacted by the drought and provided a $21 million support package to assist those in need.
"Our primary producers are the backbone of the state's economy and when drought hits there is a ripple effect that impacts individual farmers, families and regional communities," said Premier Marshall.
"The dedicated $21 million Drought Support Program is designed to help reduce the immediate burden on our farming community and assist our farmers get through this drought.
"This package builds on the support measures already in place and we will continue to work constructively with industry, Federal and local governments to ensure assistance is targeted and effective."
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the State Government has been working closely with industry through the Dry Conditions Working Group.
"This $21 million package reflects the feedback I've received from industry and farmers affected by drought in South Australia," said Minister Whetstone.
"Today's announcement delivers rate relief measures for farmers receiving the Commonwealth's Farm Household Allowance, ensuring it is accessible to those most in need.
"Our support integrates with the Morrison Coalition Government's assistance measures and will encourage more farmers in hardship to apply for and take advantage of the Farm Household Allowance, recognising the Commonwealth have recently relaxed eligibility and streamlined assessment processes," said Minister Whetstone.
"The Rural Financial Counselling Service is doing an outstanding job in not only providing support for farmers applying for the Farm Household Allowance but also creating greater resilience, so additional assistance through this program is important.
"The program also provides additional support for the Family and Business mentor program, which helped more than 100 drought affected farmers in its first 12 months, and increases the rebate for farmers investing in emergency on-farm water infrastructure."
Primary Producers SA Chairman Rob Kerin said he welcomes the State Government's package.
"There are a percentage of farmers greatly affected by drought and this assistance will help them, and supplement the Federal Government Household Support. The Council rate and Pastoral Lease subsidies will offer meaningful support to those eligible," said Mr Kerin.
"PPSA are also pleased that Rural Business Support will receive support. This will help take pressure off them as they endeavour to offer assistance to increasing numbers of drought affected farmers."
The South Australian Drought Support Program includes the following initiatives:
- Immediate financial relief by offering a 50 per cent rebate for council rates or pastoral lease rent in 2019-20 and 2020-21 for primary producers receiving the Farm Household Allowance. These rebates will be funded by the State Government and will not impact local council's revenue.
- Increased funding to Rural Business Support for a number of support activities which includes assisting small rural and regional businesses and increasing the Rural Financial Counselling Services to meet growing demand.
- Increasing the Commonwealth Government's On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme, from 25% to 50% (or up to $50,000) which will provide a greater incentive for eligible primary producers to purchase and install new water infrastructure and improve drought resilience.
- Funding for the Family and Business support (FaB) mentor program, increasing wellbeing and business advice to farmers, families and small businesses in drought-affected regions.
For more information on the drought rebates and how to apply visit pir.sa.gov.au/drought
To contact Rural Business Support for rural financial counselling assistance, contact 1800 836 211.
To find out more about the Farm Household Allowance visit the Commonwealth Department of Human Services website at www.humanservices.gov.au