ACT farmers’ support package

Sunset image by Sujay Krishnamoorthi

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

This follows on from the 2018/19 ACT Rural Resilience Grants and the 2018-9 Transport Subsidy and the 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.

2019-20 ACT Rural Resilience Grants

The 2019/20 ACT Rural Resilience Grants grant program totaling up to $150,000 is now available to eligible rural landholders to undertake drought resilience activities. Applications could be from individuals or groups of landholders.

The grants will co-fund:

  • Farm resilience planning – to support landholders to minimise the impact of weather events on rural properties
  • On-ground works/infrastructure (up to $10,000) – designed to increase the resilience of a rural property to climate weather events. (Groups of farmers can apply for funding).

Applications opened on the 6 November 2019 and will close on 31 January 2020. It is expected that successful applicants will be advised of the results of this grant round in February 2020 and will enter into deeds of agreement in February/March 2020.

More information about the grant program, including further details on how to apply are available in the 2019-20 ACT Rural Resilience Grants application guidelines and complete the 2019-20 ACT Rural Resilience Grants application form (PDF 244KB) to apply.

Note: ACT Landholders who were grant recipients under the 2018/19 ACT Rural Resilience Grants are welcome to apply for assistance through the 2019/20 grant round. They will need to have completed and acquitted the 2018/19 grant before the assessment panel can consider any new application, unless otherwise agreed.

Would you like help putting together an application?

If you are interested and would like to discuss a potential application; or discuss acquittal of your existing ACT Rural Resilience Grant, please contact ACT Natural Resource Management:

Results of previous ACT Rural Resilience Grants (2018-19)

The 2018/19 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 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 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 2018-19.

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

Transport subsidy

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.

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

Farmers who applied for the ACT Transport Subsidy in the 2018/19 financial year (Round One) 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 (Round One), 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 contact Warren Schofield on 6207 8480 or email act.ruralservices@act.gov.au.

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 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:

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.

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

i.The drilling of new horticultural bores
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:

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.

Relief grazing

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 6207 3587 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