Natural disaster funding for Upper Hunter farmers affected by March storms

WELCOME SIGHT: Some parts of the Upper Hunter recorded upwards of 100mm of rain overnight on March 29 and while it was a welcome sight, state government financial assistance is now available for any damage caused. Photo: Megan Parker at Castlerock
WELCOME SIGHT: Some parts of the Upper Hunter recorded upwards of 100mm of rain overnight on March 29 and while it was a welcome sight, state government financial assistance is now available for any damage caused. Photo: Megan Parker at Castlerock

AMONGST the doom and gloom already being caused by the drought, farmers received a further sucker punch in late March when a storm tore through the region causing damage from flooding.

With land and property receiving just under $500,000 worth of damage, action needed to be taken, and although it has taken several months, the weather phenomenon has officially been declared an agricultural natural disaster, unlocking extra funding for those affected.

Low interest $130,000 loans have now been made available to help with repairs in several local government areas (LGAs), with Scone among the areas hit within the Upper Hunter Shire on March, 29.

Upper Hunter MP, Michael Johnsen, said the destruction caused by the heavy rain and wind was severe and needed to be addressed.

"The storm caused significant damage to crops, pastures, dams, roads and creek crossings, which will require a great deal of work to restore productivity and function," he said.

"It is a sad irony of nature that at a time when our region is suffering from dry conditions, part of the electorate was affected by floods.

It is a sad irony of nature that at a time when our region is suffering from dry conditions, part of the electorate was affected by floods

Michael Johnsen

"I've seen a lot of documented evidence on the impact that the storms had and therefore the need for a natural disaster declaration."

In regards to why it has taken until September for money to become available, Mr Johnsen said it was a long and bureaucratic process.

Both state and federal governments were involved, with the latter needing to be coordinated with to gain approval.

Now that funding has been secured, the local MP is urging those eligible to make use of it.

"I would encourage growers who have suffered damage to their operations to contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority to access the available assistance," he said.

Muswellbrook LGA, Merriwa, Turill, Bellaleppa, Doulagunmala, Ailsa, Berenderry, Campbell, Collaroy, Coulson, Cranbourne, Howard, Killoe, Mackensie, and Tomimbil are among the other areas that have been authorised to use the much needed financial aid.

NSW Agricultural Natural Disaster Assistance also provides transport freight subsidies of up to 50 per cent for the carriage of livestock and fodder.

Details on available assistance can be found on the NSW Rural Assistance Authority website at www.raa.nsw.gov.au, or by calling 1800 678 593.

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