$500 million for NSW farmers battling worsening drought

The state government will give NSW farmers an extra $500 million in emergency drought relief as the bush battles worsening conditions in one of the driest winters on record.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian was in Bathurst on Monday morning to announce the package, which includes $190 million for drought transport subsidies backdated to January.

The subsidies will cover up to 50 per cent of the full cost of transporting fodder, water for stock and livestock to pasture, slaughter or sale. They will be up to $20,000 per farm business.

Ms Berejiklian said 99 per cent of NSW was now in drought, resulting in failing crops, drastic water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain livestock.

Dry conditions at a farm near Manilla, north-west of Tamworth.

Photo: Peter Hardin

“We have listened to farmers throughout NSW who have told me they urgently need help,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Premier Gladys Berejilkian announced the drought relief package on Monday.

Photo: AAP

She said conditions were "now so dire" that further support was needed to address the immediate needs of farmers and their communities until the drought breaks.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the drought had quickly worsened across the state because June and July were drier than expected, and farmers have been forced to source fodder from interstate as local supply has deteriorated.

“We said we would constantly reassess the conditions and relief measures, and the fact we’ve now increased our drought-relief package to over $1 billion is a reflection of how serious this drought is, and how much we value the health and wellbeing of our farming and regional communities,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Importantly, we have backdated this relief measure to the start of the year when the drought intensified, especially in the Upper Hunter and Western NSW. This means eligible farmers who made the decision to destock earlier this year will still benefit from this new relief package.”

The package will also include $100 million for cutting the cost of farming fees and charges by waiving local land services rates, fixed water charges in rural and regional areas and agricultural vehicle registration costs.

There will also be $150 million to bolster the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF) infrastructure program and funding for counselling and mental health and animal welfare and stock disposal.

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