ACT Farmers Support Package - Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate - Environment

ACT Farmers Support Package

Sunset image by Sujay Krishnamoorthi

The ACT Government has announced a third round of the ACT Rural Resilience Grants. The 2021-2022 ACT Rural Resilience Grants will support ACT rural landholders to address the threat posed by weeds and pest animals to their farming operations to improve landscape health and diversity and the condition of natural resources.

This follows on from the 2018-2019, and 2019-2020 ACT Rural Resilience Grants which supported landholders to build farm resilience to the increasing likelihood of dry conditions due to climate change.

This current grant round recognises that the drought-breaking La Nina, which is bringing very favourable farming conditions in the ACT and broader region, is also promoting the growth in pest animal populations and the growth and spread of highly invasive weeds.

The ACT Government has launched two programs, jointly funded by the Australian Government and the ACT Government under the Future Drought Fund , aimed at improving the resilience of farms and the ACT region to drought.

The $5 billion Future Drought Fund is a long-term investment fund that provides a sustainable source of funding to help Australian farmers and communities become more prepared for, and resilient to, the impacts of drought. The Fund is part of the Australian Government’s Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan. Commencing in 2020-21, $100million will be invested annually in projects across Australia to strengthen drought resilience. You can find more information about the Future Drought Fund on the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

The two programs launched in the ACT are:

The Farm Business Resilience Program 2021-2022

The program will build the strategic management capacity of ACT farmers, farm managers and employees to prepare for and manage risk, adapt to a changing climate and improve the farm business’s economic, environmental and social resilience.  The program will support learning in areas including strategic business skills, risk management, natural resource management, and personal and social resilience.

Regional Drought Resilience Planning 2021-2022

This program will be administered by the ACT’s Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate to support regional organisations, government, community and industry to partner together to develop a regional drought resilience plan for the ACT. The plan will identify and guide actions to build the ACT’s resilience to future droughts, with a focus on agriculture and allied industries. The plan will be developed through a triple bottom line, collaborative and evidence-based approach. Regional drought resilience plans will be independently assessed and published to allow regions across Australia to learn from each other.

More information about these programs will be available on this page over the coming weeks as the programs are rolled out.. You can also stay informed by emailing ACT NRM  at actlandcare@act.gov.au.

Future Drought Fund logoACT Government logo

As part of the 2020-21 Budget the ACT Government allocated $626,000 to support a

strong biosecurity response to the La Nina climate event which caused an explosion in

invasive plant growth following the drought and bushfires of 2017-20.

As part of that initiative, the ACT Minister for the Environment, Ms Rebecca Vassarotti MLA announced $200,000 was committed to the 2020-2021 ACT Rural Resilience Grants (Round 3). The grants program aimed to support ACT rural landholders to manage weeds and pest animals on ACT rural lands to achieve biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture outcomes that have long-term public and landscape benefits.

Up to $10,000 was made available to individual landholders to develop and implement weed control programs. Successful applications needed to address a number of criteria including:

  • ensuring their project was sound and represented value for money;
  • demonstrating an ongoing commitment to management of invasive species that
  • enhances biodiversity, conservation and sustainable agriculture; and
  • matching grant funding with either cash or in-kind contributions.

View the 25 projects supported under the ACT Rural Resilience Grants in 2020-2021.

The 2019-2020 ACT Rural Resilience Grants supported 17 ACT rural landholders to implement drought resilience activities on farms in the ACT.

Thirteen of the projects supported landholders to improve their stock water by constructing or desilting dams, installing bores and tanks, installing pipes and troughs to extend water into areas where dams have dried up, and accessing off-stream water through construction of pumps, pipes and troughs.

A further three projects assisted landholders to construct silos to conserve fodder. These projects enabled landholders to buy or grow their own stock fodder such as oats and store this fodder and protect it from the elements until they need to feed it out to their stock, taking the pressure off their soils and pastures.

One project supported a landholder to construct a drought lot feeding facility to remove stock from paddocks during drought in order to protect groundcover and allow the soil and pastures to recover quickly when rain falls. Two projects supported landholders to fence sensitive areas including a permanent Spring to prevent erosion and stock trampling. One project supported a landholder to undertake weed control in a high conservation area.

This is the second year that the ACT Government has supported ACT rural landholders to improve their drought resilience.

View the 17 projects supported under the ACT Rural Resilience Grants in 2019-2020.

The 2018-2019 ACT Rural Resilience Grant round supported 26 ACT rural landholders to implement drought resilience activities on farm.

Seventeen projects supported landholders to improve their stock water through constructing or desilting dams, installing bores and tanks, installing pipes and troughs to extend water into areas where dams have dried up, and accessing off-stream water through construction of pumps, pipes and troughs.

A further seven projects assisted landholders to construct fodder conservation infrastructure such as silos and hay sheds. These projects enabled landholders to buy or grow their own stock fodder such as oats or lucerne and store this fodder and protect from the elements until they need to feed it out to their stock, taking the pressure off their soils and pastures. Most of landholders also intended using the fodder storing sheds to harvest rainfall for stock water purposes.

Two projects assisted landholders to install fencing to manage kangaroo numbers on their properties and reduce the total grazing pressure on their farm – thus protecting soils and pastures.

View the 26 projects supported under the ACT Rural Resilience Grants in 2018-2019.

This program followed on from the ACT Rural Grants which ran from 2013 to 2018 and helped farmers achieve sustainable agriculture outcomes.

The transport subsidy scheme has been extended in line with the NSW Government's model.

Subsidies are now available under Round Two of the program.

How to apply

Read the Transport subsidy application guidelines (HTML) | (PDF 177KB) and complete the Transport Subsidy Emergency Drought Relief claim form (PDF 250KB)|(Word 83KB).

Farmers who applied for the ACT Transport Subsidy in the 2018-2019 financial year can apply for an additional $40,000 for invoices dated between 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Farmers who did not apply for the ACT Transport Subsidy prior to 30 June 2019 can apply for a maximum subsidy of $40,000 for invoices dated from 1 July 2018 - 30 June 2020.

The subsidy can be applied to the cost of transporting: fodder, water to a property for stock, stock to and from agistment, stock to sale or slaughter. For applications received from 1 July 2019 the subsidy also includes transporting of farm chemicals, fertiliser and seed to farms.

The ACT Government has announced two separate transport subsidy funding periods, with each offering $40,000 per eligible farm business:

  • 2018-19 financial year for invoices dated 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019
  • 2019-20 financial year for Invoices dated 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020

Please refer to the guidelines for full details of the eligibility criteria.

Would you like help putting together an application?

If you are interested and would like to discuss a potential application please phone Warren Schofield on 02 6207 8480 or email act.ruralservices@act.gov.au.

The ACT Government is administering the National On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme on behalf of the Australian Government. The scheme will run over 3 years from 1 July 2018 with the aim to improve farm resilience to drought by:

  • addressing animal welfare needs during drought
  • assisting primary producers and horticultural farmers to be more resilient for future droughts
  • assisting primary producers and horticultural farmers to be more productive through the installation of new water infrastructure
  • assisting in mitigating the degradation of natural watering points.

The Scheme offers a 25% rebate to eligible rural landholders for the costs associated with the purchase and installation of on-farm stock water infrastructure and/or permanent planting needs. To be eligible for assistance within the ACT during periods when the ACT is impacted by drought, an applicant must:

  • be an ACT rural leaseholder;
  • own farm stock in the ACT (cattle, sheep, horses, goats) that will benefit from additional stock water infrastructure on the ACT rural leasehold, and/or
  • own and manage existing commercial plantings such as olives, grapes and truffles or orchards;
  • install stock water infrastructure for which the rebate is being sought on a rural property in the ACT and/or
  • install emergency water infrastructure to support existing permanent horticultural plantings for which the rebate is being sought on a rural property in the ACT;
  • seek rebates for stock water infrastructure purchased/paid after 30 June 2018 and/or
  • seek emergency water infrastructure for permanent horticultural plantings purchased/paid for after 30 June 2019.

Eligible infrastructure and activities for primary producers wanting to provide emergency stock water for farm livestock:

  1. The purchase and installation of
    1. i. pipes
    2. ii. water storage devices such as tanks and troughs associated with stock watering
    3. iii. water pumps
  2. The drilling of new stock water bores and associated power supply such as generators
  3. Desilting dams.

Eligible infrastructure and activities for primary producers wanting to provide water to existing commercial permanent plantings such as orchards and vineyards etc.

  1. i.The drilling of new horticultural bores
  2. ii. Desilting dams

The rebate does not apply to:

  • water infrastructure purchased and installed for uses other than to supply water for grazing livestock or permanent horticultural plantings (for example, to provide water for irrigation, intensive livestock, human consumption, or household use)
  • wages for farm employees or self-assessed labour or machinery costs, such as the cost of fuel
  • any invoices from entities related to the applicant (for example, water infrastructure purchased from family members of the applicant or companies/partnerships owned by the applicant or that the applicant has an interest in)
  • any costs or labour that are excessive or superfluous to requirements.

The ACT Government will be responsible for determining if an expenditure by an ACT rural landholder meets the criteria for scheme within the ACT.

For further information please refer to the guidelines and claim form:

Contact the Regional NRM Facilitator, Anna Van Dugteren on 02 6205 2914 or email Anna.VanDugteren@act.gov.au to discuss project eligibility.

The ACT Government is endeavouring to locate areas that may be used for relief grazing for a short period of time.

If you are interested in potentially accessing this relief grazing please contact the Rural Services team on 02 6207 3587 or email act.ruralservices@act.gov.au.

Farmers are reminded of their biosecurity obligations when purchasing and transporting fodder. These requirements are designed to minimise the impact and risk of pests and weeds.

The Australian Government provides a variety of assistance programs to farmers.

On 5 August 2018, the Australian Government expanded eligibility for the Farm Household Allowance by raising the cap on total farm net assets from $2.6 million to $5 million and announced additional assistance to farmers receiving Farm Household Allowance via two lump sum supplementary payments of up to $6000 on 1 September 2018 and 1 March 2019.

The following organisations offer both financial and mental health services for ACT rural farmers.

  • Rural Financial Counselling Service
    Offers a free and confidential service assistance to primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses.
    Phone: 1800 319 458
  • Next Step
    Offers a coaching service though Next Step to help with feelings of anxiety, depression and day to day life stress. 
    Phone: 02 6287 8066
  • Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP)
    Offer a lot of experience assisting rural landholders with feelings of worry and stress over drought and dry conditions. Their website offers links to various mental health services, self-help resources, downloadable resources (podcasts for example) and drought support.
  • MensLine Australia
    A free telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns. 
    Phone: 1300 78 99 78
  • Beyond Blue
    Support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
    Phone: 1300 224 636
  • Lifeline Australia
    Providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. 
    Phone: 13 11 14

Photo credit: Sujay Krishnamoorthi