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Governments throw additional $50,000 lifeline to flood-affected farmers in NSW

Wednesday December 29, 2021 - 04:13 AEDT
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Floodwaters spread across many parts of NSW.  - ABC

Farmers affected by recent major flooding in New South Wales are being given a leg-up from the government to help them recover following widespread damage.†


In those areas inundated, the quality of crops has been downgraded or completely wiped out in what was expected to be a bumper year, following a devastating drought.†


Affected landholders in 53 disaster-declared local government areas will now be able to apply for $50,000 grants to help repair fencing and other infrastructure.†


The money is also designed to help in the short-term to salvage what crops they can.†


Some primary producers in areas such as Bedgerabong, near Forbes†in the central west, have lost at least a year's income, worth millions of dollars.†


Scott Darcy was one of those.


Mr Darcy's cropping operation at Bedgerabong was inundated by floodwaters near†the Lachlan River.


He said the latest funding pledge was "a kick start" and†planned†to use the money to re-sow pastures and fix fences that were lost during the floods.†


"It is a devastating thing to see your hard-earned work ... ripped out from underneath you," he said.†


To be eligible for the money, farmers must derive at least 50-per-cent of their income from on-farm activities.†


Local businesses can also access up to $25,000.†


The state's Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke said the forecast for the next few months indicated†there would be more flooding and storm damage.†


"We do understand that farmers will need some shot in the arm to get back on their feet as quickly as possible," Ms Cooke said.†


The salve†comes in addition to†the state government's disaster assistance grants, which are available to more than 50 council areas.†


"This is sending a strong message to our farmers and farming communities more broadly that the government is there to support them," she said.†


The state's Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said it was a "helping hand not a hand out" to an industry that†has contributed almost $21 billion to the economy in the past financial year.†


Councils under-funded and struggling


Advocacy group Local Government NSW, on the other hand, has†criticised the state government for overlooking regional councils.†


It has sought a commitment of at least $162 million in funding for local road networks in 2022.†


Darriea Turley, president of Local Government NSW, said prior to the floods there was $2.2 billion dollars of work required across the state.


"All those natural disasters are exacerbating the problems," Ms Turley said.†


IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) has introduced a 0.7 per cent rate cap next year.†


The move has been criticised by councils in the Central West, over concerns it would limit their ability to repair†damage caused by ever-increasing natural disasters.†


"When you see a road in your community, a road that needs repair, often the council just doesn't have the funding there," she said.†


The Country Mayors Association has called for a review to what it†said was the lowest rate cap in 20 years, as†it meant some regional councils would not be able to provide some basic services.†


Across the Cabonne and Forbes Shire Council areas†there has been an estimated $9 million of damage, mostly to roads.†


The Parkes Shire Council said it "is managing ageing infrastructure in a changing climate, resulting in more frequent and intensive storms".†


There has been approximately $1 million of damage in the district in recent months but the Council has criticised the rate peg for limiting its budget to address the issues.†


Nearby, more than 100 properties in the Lachlan Shire Council were flooded.†


The council said the ability to respond to disasters has been hindered by the rate peg and the delivery of services expected by the community will be affected.†







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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