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New drought policy for NSW

A new emphasis on supporting farm business preparedness and risk management programs will replace the old system of “drought declarations” in a new State government drought management package announced today. Primary Industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson said while farm businesses and rural communities were highly exposed to the effects of seasonal conditions, previous drought policies hadn’t helped farmers to prepare for risks. “Under old systems, farmers had to wait for a district to be ‘drought declared’ in order for a range of subsidies to be triggered by which stage feed supplies were dwindling, water tanks were low and saleyards were receiving increased numbers of drought-affected stock,” Ms Hodgkinson said. Central to the approach is the new Regional Assistance Advisory Committee which will provide advice to Ms Hodgkinson on programs including the existing Rural Financial Counselling Service, Rural Support Worker Program, Special Conservation Scheme, transport subsidies and farm business preparedness and resilience programs including PROfarm courses, short and long course training through Tocal College and TAFE. A new monthly seasonal conditions report will replace the old system of drought declarations. (Read more here.) “Once the format and content of the statewide Seasonal Conditions Report is finalised, a full suite of Regional Seasonal Conditions Reports will be developed to match the Local Land Services (LLS) regions,” she said. “Transport subsidies will also be available to assist in specific cases of animal welfare.” The Regional Assistance Advisory Committee will work closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Rural Assistance Authority, Rural Support Workers and the future LLS to provide localised advice on managing seasonal variability. NSW is the first State to propose changes since the national drought policy framework was released in October 2012 following the last last Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI) meeting. Federal, state and territory agriculture ministers agreed to a new national drought framework. “The Land” http://www.theland.com.au/news/state/agribusiness/general-news/new-drought-policy-for-nsw/2645822.aspx?storypage=2

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