MEDIA RELEASE: Berejiklian failing farmers on drought assistance

The NSW Labor Opposition has slammed the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government for reducing the amount of funding given to farmers while 98.5 per cent of the state is still in drought. NSW Budget Estimates hearings today revealed that approvals for the Farm Innovation Fund (7 year loans of up to $1 million with a two year interest and repayment free period) have effectively halved from $321 million in the twelve months from 2018/19 to only $69 million (2019/20 YTD). Similarly, approvals for the Drought Assistance Fund (DAF) have dropped from $65 million in 2018/19 to $28 million (2019/20 YTD). Responding to questioning by the Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business, the Hon Daniel Mookhey MLC, the Government conceded drought relief loan programs were tracking for a significant decrease in approvals in the 2020 financial year. Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Jenny Aitchison MP said the Minister should explain why these drought assistance measures had reduced so much. “We have farmers now in their third year of drought, and the approvals on drought assistance loans are falling through the floor,” Ms Aitchison said. “The Minister must explain how he is going to help farmers get through this drought.” “After three years, and on the back of the terrible bushfire season we have just experienced, farmers are losing faith in the capacity of the Government to assist them.” Mr Mookhey highlighted the importance of drought assistance measures to farmers in regional economies, saying “Farming communities are doing it tough, and we are seeing a massive impact on small businesses. The Government must provide support or we risk losing more small businesses in our regional economies.” #Mediarelease #PrimaryIndustries #Drought #DroughtAssistance #bushfires #NSWFarmers #BudgetEstimates #JennyAitchisonMP