Drought Support and Program Review

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Drought Support and Program Review

Queensland Drought Program Review 

The Palaszczuk Government committed to review drought programs and assistance in Queensland for future droughts. On 26 August 2018, an independent expert panel made up of Charles Burke (former AgForce CEO) and Ruth Wade (former QFF CEO) were engaged to look at what can be done during, and prepare for future droughts through a Drought Program Review. The current Drought Assistance Package and other government programs will continue to run for the duration of this drought.

The independent panel provided their recommendations to the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries on 31 January 2019.

AgForce made a submission on behalf of members to the Queensland Drought Program Review. 

Current Drought Support on Offer

As of June 2019, 65% of Queensland is drought declared. If you aren’t drought-declared but feeling the effects of drought you can apply for an Independently Droughted Property. Below is a list of drought support measures you may be eligible for.

Federal Government Support

Farm Household Allowance

The FHA provided fortnightly income support to farmers and their partners up to a maximum of four cumulative years while they take action to address their long-term financial security. There are four key support elements to the program:

  • A fortnightly payment and supplementary allowance such as rent assistance, telephone and pharmaceutical allowances and a Health Care Card up to four years; 
  • Individual case support with a Farm Household Case Officer (FHCO) and a Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC); 
  • A financial assessment of the farm enterprise up to $1,500; and
  • A $4,000 activity supplement that gives farmers the opportunity to develop skills, access training and pay for advice to better manage their business into the future.

There are further supplement available which will be delivered in one or two FHA lump sum payments:

  • Single Farmers $7,200
  • Farming Couples $12,000

To find out more contact your Rural Financial Counsellor or call the Farm Assist Hotline on 13 23 16

Rural Financial Counselling Service Provides Queensland drought-affected farming businesses with subsidies and rebates between $20,000 and $40,000 per property to manage transportation and operating costs. 

The RFCS is a service that works with clients individually to support through a range of farm business concerns.

State Government Support

Drought Relief Assistance Scheme

Producers with a property that is currently drought declared may be eligible for:

  • freight subsidies for transporting fodder NOTE: recent announcement means producers can claim distances up to 2,000kms
  • freight subsidies for transporting water
  • the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate (EWIR), which provides a rebate on the purchase and installation of water infrastructure installed for emergency animal welfare needs.

Producers with a property that has had its drought declaration revoked may be eligible for:

  • freight subsidies for transporting livestock returning from agistment
  • freight subsidies for transporting livestock purchased for restocking.

Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate

EWIR is designed to address immediate animal welfare needs to help improve properties to be more resilience to future drought. It provides a rebate on the cost of buying and installing water infrastructure for animal welfare needs and aims to lift productivity by providing water supply to areas where pasture was less than fully utilised due to the lack of stock water.

Land Rent Subsidies

As part of the government's drought assistance package, landholders of rural leases (being Category 11 leases used for grazing and primary production) issued under the Land Act 1994 are eligible for a rebate of 15% of the annual rent where that annual payment is more than the minimum rent of $261.00 (excl. GST). Landholders who are eligible for the rebate will receive information with their annual or quarterly invoices.

Drought assistance land rent deferral provides relief from supply charges on electricity accounts that are used to pump water for farm or irrigation purposes. 

As a further hardship assistance measure, the payment date for all Category 11 drought declared invoices for the 2018-19 financial year has been extended until 1 July 2019. No penalty interest will accrue on overdue balances during the 2018-19 financial year.

Drought Relief from Electricity Charges Scheme (DRECS)

Transport-related drought assistance

Delivered by Transport and Main Roads (TMR), these transport-related drought assistance measures include:

  • permits for increasing the maximum hay loading height
  • concessions on shifting droughted livestock
  • waivers and greater flexibility on certain vehicle registration conditions and fees and charges
  • increased school transport allowances for some families that drive their children to school or connect with a school bus run.

Farm Business Debt Mediation

Providing access to an efficient and equitable way for farmers and mortgagees to attempt to resolve matters relating to farm business debts.

Loans

Primary Industry Productivity Enhancement Scheme (PIPES)

The purpose of the Primary Industry Productivity Enhancement Scheme (PIPES) is to provide loans at concessional rates of interest to existing primary producers and to those looking to enter the primary production industry or upgrade their existing non-viable primary production enterprise.

Regional Investment Corporation Loans

The RIC is now operating with two loan products offering up to $1 million for farm businesses either for preparing, managing or recovering from drought. The RIC is a Commonwealth entity established to deliver up to $2billion in new low-interest loans directly to farm businesses. It will also administer financing to state governments through the National Water infrastructure Loan Facility.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Lifeline

Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or access the after-hours online crisis support chat here: lifeline.org.au/get-help/online-services/crisis-chat

Rural Financial Counselling Service

The RFCS is a service that works with clients individually to support through a range of farm business concerns.

Royal Flying Doctor Service’s Drought Well Being Service

This program funded by Queensland Health provides mental health services to droughted remote communities through workshops and primary health care.

Corporate Responsibility 

2019 bushfire offers are now open at various banks.

Ergon Energy Drought Relief

Drought relief in the form of waived charges and deferred payments.

Telstra Financial Hardship

This support is not available to those experiencing financial hardship due to drought. Payment extensions or fee waivers available call 13 22 00 or visit online.

Drought Support and Program Review

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