Isabella Ross

The NSW Government has pledged more than $1 billion to support farmers who are dealing with hardship for the worsening drought state-wide. On July 30, the government announced a $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package; therefore taking the total drought support to over $1 billion. A range of grants were put in place including $190 million for Drought Transport Subsidies. The subsidy is set to cover up to 50% of the full cost of transporting feed, water and the pasture, slaughter or sale of livestock.

The impact of the drought has been devastating for farmers, with the NSW Farmers Association estimating that 99% of the state is now in drought. Coming to the end of the cold season, this has been one of the driest winters on record. As a direct consequence this has resulted in drastic water shortages, a diminishing supply of feed for the livestock and a widespread failure of crops.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian spoke of the $584 million already committed to drought support, however announced that further funds would be given to those in need.

We have listened to farmers throughout NSW who have told me they urgently need help. Conditions are now so dire that further support is needed to address the more immediate needs for farmers and their communities until the drought breaks.”

Drought-stricken property in the far North-West of NSW.

The sombre reality is that there is a higher rate of stress, depression and suicide amongst male farmers in comparison to their non-farming male counterparts. Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman spoke previously of the geographical boundary that can affect those in rural regions seeking support.

We know farmers can be hard to reach – not only for geographical reasons, but also due to the long hours they put in on the farm. Depression and anxiety affects even the toughest people. We want everyone to know that if you’re struggling, help and information is available.”

Also included in the Emergency Drought Relief Package is funding for mental health counselling services. Welcoming the grant was the NSW Farmer’s Association; a lobby group that champions for the rights of farmers, stakeholders and rural communities in the agricultural sector.

It’s not only the big costs that affect farm business cash flow. It is the small, ongoing commitments that add up,” stressed NSW Farmer’s President, James Jackson. “As farmers continue to make tough decisions, we call on the NSW Government to make it equitable and as easy as possible for them to access relief.”

If you or someone you know needs support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the NSW Rural Mental Health Support Line on 1800 201 123