NSW Farmers say the state budget is positive, but dry still hurts

NSW Farmers preident James Jackson. Photo: Supplied
NSW Farmers preident James Jackson. Photo: Supplied

A peak body representing farmers in NSW have welcomed the state government's 2019-20 budget saying it was "generally positive" for regional communities although they reiterated that the drought is still impacting most of the region.

The budget included a $1.8 billion drought relief package, $1.2 billion to upgrade regional roads and $400 million investment to support new mobile towers to eliminate blackspots.

It also included $2.6 million towards water reform in the Murray Darling Basin.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said it is a budget that locks the Government into delivering on their election commitments, many of which came from their FOCUS pre-election campaign priorities.

"In addition to ongoing drought support, the budget highlighted significant infrastructure expenditure across regional and rural NSW that will benefit both farmers and regional communities post the drought," he said.

Mr Jackson said farmers across NSW welcome the on-farm commitments that will aid cash flow pressure - transport subsidies, and waiving of LLS Fees and Farm Innovation Fund interest repayments.

"The bulk of the water infrastructure funding will be of significant value to towns and communities that are running dry. The additional funding to deliver Farm Innovation Fund loans is also valuable supporting farmers to invest in water infrastructure and other drought proofing strategies," he said.

"However, we are concerned that even with the recent good rains grain growers will face a further 18-24 months with little or no income until their crops are harvested."

Mr Jackson said it was important to remember that while there has been some good rain in the south and northeastern areas, the north-west is still very dry.

"We also have ongoing concerns for orchardists who do not see the benefit of direct farm drought support measure such as transport subsidies and who have no access to water to sustain permanent plantings," he added.

The Association were pleased with funding to commence duplication of the Great Western Highway, upgrades to the Newell Highway, and long awaited sealing of the Cobb and Silver City Highways, Mr Jackson said.

"The extension of the Wild Dog Extension Fence will be of benefit to farmers across the State, not only in the Western Division farmers in the we are also pleased that the Agriculture Commissioner and the Dairy Business Advisory Unit will be funded," he added.

"The Association would have appreciated funding to boost biosecurity and more support for farmers in recognising their environmental stewardship