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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 14 August 2018) . . Page.. 2857 ..

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Cody for her interest in and support for our agriculture sector. I was pleased today, along with the Chief Minister, to announce an assistance package for farmers in the ACT. The announcement of this package follows on from the work that the ACT government has done with farmers in recent years to build their resilience in dealing with the increasing likelihood of dry conditions due to climate change. The package is designed to support farmers in need and further prepare them for the future.

The ACT farmers support package will provide freight subsidies for ACT farmers who are being forced to source expensive feed for their stock. This is in line with the support being offered in New South Wales. The ACT farmers support package also comprises a new grant program for eligible rural landholders to undertake drought resilience activities. Applications could be from individuals or groups of landholders.

I thank the ACT Rural Landholders’ Association for their productive approach. I met the association last week. The government has now brought forward a package that provides financial support as well as a number of other measures the government will continue to explore in the weeks ahead.

MS CODY: Minister, can you further outline the impact of the extended dry conditions on the ACT’s farmers, and how the assistance package will help them through this current period as well as build resilience for future dry periods.

MR GENTLEMAN: The ACT is experiencing extended dry conditions similar to surrounding areas in New South Wales. The first six months of this year have seen 34 per cent less rainfall and a one degree warmer temperature than the long-term average. This follows last year, which saw 21 per cent less rainfall than the long-term average.

Rural landholders are concerned about the lack of feed for farm stock and have significantly reduced stock numbers and are supplementary feeding remaining stock. So they have done quite a bit of work already. As the season progresses, the demand for stockfeed will grow and reports are already widespread of shortages necessitating purchases from as far afield as South Australia, at very high premiums.

The government will put in place several assistance measures, including a 50 per cent freight transport subsidy scheme based on the recently announced New South Wales 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. The subsidy will be from July this year for a period of 12 months. There will be a new ACT rural resilience grants program, totalling $150,000 in 2018-19, that farmers can apply for to co-fund drought-related property management plans and on-ground works. There will be the collation of an inventory of unleased territory land that may be suitable for relief grazing.

We have worked extensively with farmers in recent years to build their resilience when dealing with dry conditions due to climate change. It is clear, though, that the current conditions require extra action. I am confident that these new measures will

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