Federal and state drought-relief still isn't enough for farmers

The Big Dry: It's still going to be tough to remain viable if the rain doesn't fall. Photo: Amy McIntyre
The Big Dry: It's still going to be tough to remain viable if the rain doesn't fall. Photo: Amy McIntyre

Rural Aid, Aussie Helpers and the NSW drought coordinator have weighed in on the Federal Government’s drought-relief package announced in Trangie on Sunday. 

Rural aid founder Charles Alder said while funding was a good step, more should have come sooner. 

“It will given them subsistence living, but its going to make it very tough to remain viable if the drought doesn’t break or the rains don’t fall as they are talking about in March to April next year.”  

The two lump-sum payments under the Farm Household Allowance will come to eligible couples and singles in September and March. 

“If its up to $12,000 a year, that’s only what, $300 a week, so its not a great deal of money. If farmers don’t have any stock and they’re going to have to pay their mortgage, that’s going to be a challenge as well,” Mr Alder said. 

Aussie Helpers NSW drought-coordinator Krystal Haycock said she doesn’t think the farmers would last as long as the government were thinking they would. 

“It will go towards paying off bills, paying off accounts, i’d suggest it would go towards food and desperate household items, household repairs, 

“It will go towards purchase of water to their homes. I don’t think it will spread over a six month period. 

“That’s quite a stretch on a farm, a farm has a lot more expenses than that. 

“I don’t think anything they’ve introduced so far is enough, every bit is welcomed, but definitely needs to be more.”

NSW Department of Primary Industries NSW drought coordinator Pip Job said any type of support was welcomed and the main message for people struggling was not to self-assess.

“Yes the farm household allowance is complex, but they’ve got the support to help them do it, use the Rural Financial Counselling Services, rather than saying it’s too hard.

“I think anything that can be done to help streamline a process should never be under looked.”

Ms Job said farmers and the government should be looking longer term beyond the current effects of the drought. 

“As conditions continue to deteriorate, known of us know when the break will come, none of us are gifted with the rainmaker super power, we will keep looking at what support needs to provided.

“We only get a 12-month reprieve, will it be 5 years, 10 years until the next drought, we don’t know.

“We need to learn from what we can now.”