Assistance to Drought and Fire Affected Farmland Property Owners
Published on 24 December 2019
Drought and fire affected farmland property owners in QPRC will soon benefit from a wide-ranging suite of financial and social relief measures recently announced by Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.
Rate relief, the waiving of Braidwood saleyards fees for one or two years and continuing support for the control of an expected proliferation of weeds, are just some of the measures that feature high on Council’s list of assistance to drought and fire affected farmers.
The continuing drought has impacted heavily on our farming community, who are now also suffering from stock and property losses in the devastating North Black Range, Currowan and Tianjara bushfires. With no decent rain in sight, Council is keen to provide as much relief as it can to help farmers through the difficult times ahead.
Council will make a cash donation of $10,000 to the Braidwood Life Centre’s Community Help Fund to distribute to farming families affected by drought and bushfires. Half of this donation will support BlazeAid, an organisation that will provide voluntary help to QPRC farmers to fix fences and other infrastructure destroyed by fires. BlazeAid is currently operating in other areas in the State, and will soon set up at the Braidwood Showground. It plans to have between 20-30 volunteers working with up to 20 farmers for about 4-12 weeks.
Council will hold a special social event for the farming community early in 2020, and will offer complimentary tickets to QPRC season shows at The Q Theatre and entrance to our pools for eligible farming families.
Council will provide funding for a second Farm Focus Business Development Program to follow the current one which finishes early in 2020. This program helps farmers establish new value-added, tourism-related business opportunities on their farms.
Other measures include developing processes to enable property owners to apply for various options for assistance. For example, Council may be able to subsidise private works for the reinstatement of dams on farming properties at cost.
The eligibility criteria for Council’s assistance include ownership of any parcel of land that is categorised as Farmland in the QPRC Local Government Area, and which is liable for the payment of South East Local Land Services rates.
The QPRC Financial Hardship and Assistance Policy will be amended to enable the extension of automatic hardship relief for farmland rates assessments for 2020/21.
Council will continue advocacy to the Federal Government to increase the Financial Assistance Grant annual allocation (i.e. by the paused FAG indexation 2014-17) and minimise the population bias in the Act, to enable drought declared LGAs to:
- directly rebate rates to farmland category properties and business directly reliant on farmland activity
- establish reserves to leverage the Federal Government $15m Weeds Fund and join state and regional agencies to invest in additional weed control measures on identified private farmland properties in those LGAs.
More information on State and Federal assistance is available here - https://www.qprc.nsw.gov.au/Bushfire-and-Drought-assistance.