Drought-affected farmers in New South Wales are set to benefit from additional assistance to deal with feral animals and pests, and increased funding for the state's Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate program.
"This is a great program, it helps farmers deal with the in-crisis issue of providing water to livestock, while also enabling them to install crucial infrastructure to better cope with future droughts," NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said.
"By 30 June 2014, the Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) will have already paid $9 million to more than 800 drought-affected farmers through this program.
"Due to the popularity of the program, funding for the 2014-15 financial year is already close to being fully subscribed so I strongly urge interested landholders to contact the RAA before undertaking any works."
Ms Hodgkinson says the pest management funding will be delivered through Local Land Services to drought-affected farmers and will expand the work of pest animal projects already underway, giving these initiatives a much-needed boost.
"Priorities for NSW include expanding aerial wild dog baiting programs and aerial feral pig control programs.
"The funding will also be put towards developing and implementing projects that will build on existing farmer led control programs to reduce the impacts of pest animals on the environment and farm businesses," Ms Hodgkinson said.
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the Australian Government had approved $2.4 million in funding to help farmers in NSW deal with feral animals and pests, and the government is also expecting to sign off on up to $4 million for the NSW Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate program in the coming weeks.
Ms Hodgkinson, said the NSW Government has also allocated an additional 13 million dollars for drought help that had been announced in the state Budget.
The Minister said $8 million of that money would spent on the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate (plus up to $4 million from the Commonwealth Government), nearly $2 million to continue the Rural Support Worker Program, $2.5 million to continue the Country Town Emergency Water Cartage and Infrastructure Scheme; and $350,000 for additional staff at the Rural Assistance Authority (RAA), to support the rollout of the new national drought program from July 1st 2014.
No agreement has yet been reached between the Federal and State governments on the roll-out of low interest concessional loans for eligible drought affected farmers, but Minister Hodgkinson says that announcement is "imminent".
© ABC 2014
19:21 EST Parts of Sydney and the Blue Mountains have been blanketed by large hailstones as a severe thunderstorm moves across the area.