Recently, we have seen several changes to the government support available to farmers. Some initiatives are drawing to a close, while others have been expanded in efforts to boost drought recovery. Importantly, there are some guidelines and timeframes of which you need to be aware.
Emergency Drought Transport subsidies:
- For those who have claimed transport subsidies in Round Two (the financial year just ended), you now have until 30 September to submit any further invoices for that year. As from the start, YBM are pleased to help with these applications at no charge.
- Round Three of the program opened from 1 July 2020 and eligible applicants are able to claim a maximum of $25,000. The RAA website states that the program will run to 31 December 2020 ‘or until funds are exhausted’. It may be wise to get applications in as soon as possible. Again, we are here to help.
- Round Three also includes the transport of purchased stock for re-stocking purposes. Previously, the program only covered the movement of stock to sale or slaughter, or to and from agistment. The transport of fodder, water, fertiliser, chemical and seed are also still included.
Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate:
- Applications for this program closed 14 months early upon exhaustion of Commonwealth funds. The RAA, NSW government and NSW Farmers all claim to be lobbying for additional federal funding with the hope of re-commencing the hugely successful and valuable program. We hope we can bring positive news regarding this in future months.
Drought Assistance Fund:
- This interest-free loan program is set to continue, offering farmers an opportunity to build systems and practices that enhance farm sustainability. We do stress that this is a loan and thus needs to be repaid.
- The fund cap was lifted from $50,000 to $100,000 per eligible business as of 1 July 2020, however guidelines have not yet been updated on the RAA website. We are awaiting details as to how this will be applied but will endeavour to keep you posted.
- Loan terms are expected to remain at seven years with no repayments required in the first two years.
- Funding can be sought for a range of activities, which was expanded last year to include activities that ‘promote profitability and resilience as a result of the on-farm investment’. This potentially covers a broad range of activities in addition to those always promoted by the fund: transport of fodder, water and stock; genetic banking of breeding herds; and installation of on-farm fodder and water infrastructure.
Low interest loans for farmers:
- NSW government have committed additional funds to the RAA Farm Innovation Fund with farmers now able to borrow up to $1 million per project or borrow to a total of $1 million if an existing Farm Innovation Fund facility is in place. At the time of writing this, the guidelines stated 2.5% interest and terms of up to 20 years.
- The Commonwealth funded, RIC Drought loan has also been updated to remove the requirement for applicants to operate in an ‘eligible’ area. Applicants are, however, still required to demonstrate that their income has been affected as a result of drought. At the time of writing this, the RIC website stated 2.11% interest and terms of ten years. Communication with the RIC has also indicated they have significantly increased the speed with which they are processing applications.
Education for farmers:
- The RAA Farm Business Skills Professional Development Program closed on the 30 June 2020, and eligible businesses now have until 30 September to claim reimbursements for professional development activities that were completed before 30 June. Please contact us if you need assistance submitting these.
To keep up to date with news relevant to the Agriculture Industry, and for links to current subsidies, grants and loans that are on offer to primary producers, go to our Agriculture Industry page.
We have also found the RAA website (https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/loans) an invaluable tool throughout the last couple of years. Guidelines are available for all RAA programs and we encourage you to check these or contact us for further information about eligibility and the application process. We now boast significant experience in these applications and are pleased to offer this service.