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$75,000 in emergency bushfire grants for farming businesses

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bushfire grants netting Dion Georgopoulos

Damage in Batlow after the Dunns Road fire hit last weekend. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

Farm, fish, and forestry businesses in fire-affected regions will have access to $100 million in emergency bushfire recovery funding, which will be made available following agreement with relevant state governments. Those in fire-affected regions can apply for up to $75,000 in grants, with funding to be delivered by state disaster response agencies.

The program is an initial injection, and the Federal Government has vowed that if demand exceeds the initial $100 million announced, further ‘uncapped’ money will be made available.

Eligibility rules are yet to be finalised, but the Government has stated that producers with off-farm income will not be excluded and the intention is to get cash to farmers quickly to allow them to normalise their businesses as quickly as possible and cover critical needs not already covered by insurance.

Funding will be available to support primary producers to access essentials like fodder and water, while also help rebuild fencing or hire vital agricultural equipment like water pumps, irrigation systems, horticultural netting, and generators.

The grants are in addition to the $15,000 clean up and recovery grants announced for NSW primary producers last week and support funding already available through the Department of Human Services.

APAL CEO Phil Turnbull has been visiting fire and drought-affected communities this week and said additional support would be very welcome to growers who had had to deal with fire and, in several regions hail, while also dealing with high water prices and the ongoing drought conditions.

APAL sits on the Horticultural Council of the National Farmers’ Federation which has been providing preliminary advice to Government on the priority assistance requirements of farmers and the most appropriate investment for agriculture flowing from the Federal Government’s $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund.

NFF President Fiona Simson said all farmers impacted by fire had also been challenged by the ongoing, unprecedented drought conditions.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s reiteration that bushfire assistance is in addition to, not in place of, drought support,” she said.

Financial counselling funds

The Federal Government will also provide $15 million to fund 60 additional rural financial counsellors and support workers to bolster the approximately 180 already in place.

“This funding could help pay for tradespeople to conduct farm safety inspections, for veterinary fees, waste disposal and to repair any damaged property,” said Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie.

“These grants of up to $75,000 will help get them the equipment they need to start rebuilding. We’re working closely with farming groups to develop specific industry recovery plans.”

As with the grants for the North Queensland floods in early 2019, funds under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement will be made available to state governments of impacted communities, on request, for delivery through their relevant state disaster response agency.

“This is critical support for primary producers to meet their immediate needs in getting their agriculture businesses back up and running where those needs are not covered under existing insurance policies,” said Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud.

“Primary producers from farmers and fishers to private foresters and beekeepers will all be eligible to apply under the extended definition of primary producers in the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.”

Farmers who have been tackling the drought and have off-farm income won’t be disadvantaged, the same off-farm income rules for Farm Household Allowance will apply. This means farmers that aren’t eligible for Category C payments due to off-farm income rules will still be eligible for up to $75,000 to help them normalise their farm businesses as quickly as possible.

Funding will be available through the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program. Further details such as eligibility requirements as soon as state-based delivery arrangements are confirmed.

For more information on the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program please contact 1800 900 090.

 

Further information 

Hort Innovation has set up a list of resources for those affected by bushfires.

APAL technical manager Rose Daniel has put together some information on Recovering from fire: what should be done first?

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