ACT farmers’ support package

Sunset image by Sujay Krishnamoorthi

The ACT Government has announced an assistance package for the ACT’s rural landholders as a result of the current dry conditions.

This follows on from work we’ve done with farmers in recent years to build their resilience for dealing with the increasing likelihood of dry conditions due to climate change.

The package is designed to support those farmers in need and also further prepare them for the future.

National On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate

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 to be more resilient for future droughts
  • assisting primary producers 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. To be eligible for assistance within the ACT 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
  • install stock water infrastructure for which the rebate is being sought on a rural property in the ACT
  • seek rebates for stock water infrastructure purchased/paid for after 30 June 2018.

The eligible infrastructure and activities:

a. The purchase and installation of
i. pipes
ii. water storage devices such as tanks and troughs associated with stock watering
iii. water pumps

b. The drilling of new stock water bores and associated power supply such as generators

c. Desilting dams.

The rebate does not apply to:

  • water infrastructure purchased and installed for uses other than to supply water for grazing livestock (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:

You can also contact the Regional NRM Facilitator Anna Van Dugteren on 6205 2914 or email Anna.VanDugteren@act.gov.au to discuss further if projects would be eligible for rebate.

ACT Rural Resilience Grants

A new grant program totalling up to $150,000 for 2018-19 is supporting rural landholders across the ACT to implement drought resilience activities on farm.

Seventeen projects will support landholders to improve their stock water (water to keep sheep, cattle and other farm animals alive) through constructing or de-silting 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 will assist landholders to construct fodder conservation infrastructure such as silos and hay sheds. These projects will enable 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 are also planning to use the fodder storing sheds to harvest rainfall for stock water purposes.

Two projects will assist 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 particularly during these dry times.

View the 26 projects supported under the ACT Rural Resilience Grants in 2018-19.

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

Relief grazing

The ACT Government is endeavoring to locate areas that may be used for relief grazing for a short period of time. There is currently a block in Hume identified.

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

Transport subsidy

A transport subsidy scheme has been introduced in line with the NSW Government’s model.

This will provide a subsidy of up to $20,000 on transport of fodder and/or water to a property as well as the movement of stock during the 2018-19 financial year. Payments of up to 50% of freight costs (capped at $20,000) can be made on eligible, paid tax receipts which demonstrate transport occurring between 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

The ACT Government have updated the eligibility criteria in line with recent changes to the NSW Government drought assistance strategy. Previously, owners and operators of the business were not eligible if they did have gross off-farm assets exceeding $1,000,000 (excluding funds in a registered superannuation fund). This amount has been increased to $5,000,000.

Application guidelines and claim form are now available as PDF and Word.

Applicants also need to complete the relevant transport record.

Would you like help putting together an application?

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

Requirements for fodder purchased from interstate

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.

Australian Government assistance

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.

Financial and mental health services

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
Website: https://www.rfcsnsw.com.au

ACT Health
Offers a coaching service though ‘Next Step’ to help with feelings of anxiety, depression and day to day life stress
Phone: 02 6287 8066
Website: https://www.wcs.org.au/services/mental-health/next-step

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.
Website: https://www.ramhp.com.au

Photo credit: Sujay Krishnamoorthi