The NSW Government has announced it is making it easier for farmers and their families to access the Drought Transport Subsidies and the Drought Assistance Fund by relaxing the gross off-farm asset test.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has said the current criteria is being lifted from $1 million off-farm assets to $5 million, which means more farmers will now be eligible to access drought assistance.

“We don’t want to punish farmers who’ve diversified their assets, understandably they still need help during these tough times,” Ms Cooke said.

“We’re standing with our farmers and continually assessing our drought relief package to ensure we are delivering the right support at the right time.”

Ms Cooke said criteria for ‘new entrants’ have also been created within the Government’s drought assistance guidelines to support farmers who are new to the industry.

“New entrants, including many young farmers, will now have greater access to Government assistance which will be particularly beneficial as they establish their businesses,” Ms Cooke said.

In addition to amending the access criteria, Ms Cooke said the Government is also making it easier for farmers to get help completing and submitting drought support applications, with Local Land Services offices now providing this assistance.

“Farmers in the region can now visit their local LLS Office or Rural Financial Counsellor for assistance with preparing and submitting their applications for drought support,” she said.

“In addition, the Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) is now open until 10pm weeknights, allowing farmers who have been out in the paddocks all day a greater opportunity to seek support.

“These changes will ensure farmers can access the support they need and receive their subsidy payments as quickly as possible.”

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) research stations and 37 Service NSW offices can also provide assistance to complete drought support applications. To find a local service centre, visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/climate-and-emergencies/droughthub/drought-assistance/assistance-near-you

The NSW Government Emergency Drought Relief package provides more than $1 billion in drought relief measures, for more information visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au