• Tony Bosworth

$75,000 grants open to support Hawkesbury primary producers and farmers, plus low interest loans

Grants of up to $75,000 are now open for eligible primary producers recovering from last month's flood and storm damage under the Special Disaster Grants program.

Funded by the Australian Federal and NSW Governments, eligible farmers and primary producers are encouraged to speak to the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) and apply for funding.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud (right) talks to a Hawkesbury turf farmer on a visit this last week to see for himself the flood devastation

Senator for Western Sydney, the Hon Marise Payne, said the grants have been activated as part of the Australian Government’s response to the recent flooding and storms.

“The first stage of recovery is the difficult task of cleaning up,” Senator Payne said.

“These grants are specifically designed to support our local farmers and primary producers through what can be a complex and understandably emotional process.”

As we reported last week, the federal Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud, visited the Hawkesbury on Wednesday and met with local turf and vegetable farmers affected by the flooding.

Eligible primary producers are those who earn at least half of their income from on-farm sources and who will incur clean up and reinstatement costs because of storms and floods that started on March 10.

Eligible costs include:

· hiring or leasing equipment or materials to clean premises, property or equipment

· removing and disposing of debris, damaged goods, materials including injured or dead livestock

· repairing or replacing fencing and/or other essential property infrastructure

· purchasing and transporting fodder or feed for livestock

· replacing livestock

· replacing lost or damaged plants, salvaging crops, repairing or restoring fields

· repairing, reconditioning or replacing essential plant or equipment

· maintaining the health of livestock

· paying additional wages to an employee to assist with clean-up work (above and beyond normal wage expenditure, such as day-to-day staffing)

· repairing buildings (except dwellings, unless they are used for staff accommodation)

In addition to the clean-up grants, primary producers and small businesses affected by the March storms and floods who are in need of urgent assistance may be eligible for low interest loans of up to $130,000 over a period of 10 years.

“We know the clean-up process will take time, so [the low interest loans have] also been activated as part of our response,” Senator Payne said.

“The loans are intended to help small businesses return to their normal level of trading or until the next major income is received within 12 months from the date of disaster and to replace and repair damage caused and associated improvements not covered by insurance.

“We’ll continue working with the NSW Government to do what it takes to support affected communities and primary producers to recover.”

The Natural Disaster Loan - Small Business can be applied for via the RRA.

“A range of supports are available through both the Rural Assistance Authority and the NSW Treasury,” Sen Payne said.

“I appreciate there is a lot if information that has been published regarding the recovery and rebuild process, so I strongly encourage anyone who needs support to get in touch with my team because just like the 2019-20 bushfires, we are in this for the long haul and on hand to assist.”

Free confidential assistance is also available from the Rural Financial Counselling Service who can help with the filling out of application forms. If given permission, the RAA can work with private financial advisors or accountants to assist eligible primary producers, however they will be liable for any professional fees charged.

Those impacted by the flooding and storms are encouraged to contact the Disaster Customer Care Service on 13 77 88 or visit service.nsw.gov.au/floods should they require assistance. The RRA can be contacted on 1800 678 593 or emailed at rural.assist@raa.nsw.gov.au.

The online application form, grant guidelines and other information for the $75,000 Special Disaster Grants can be accessed here: https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/disaster-assistance/special-disaster-grants-floods.

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