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New minister discusses drought options

Alex Blucher, Tuesday May 6, 2014 - 14:13 EST
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A farmer feeds a flock of sheep. - ABC

With concessional loans yet to hit the ground and state emergency drought funds long gone, many drought affected farmers in the north west of New South Wales, are in a desperate state of limbo, as they wait for a seasonal change.

There's been no significant rain in that part of the state and many are facing another two years without farm income.

They are calling for more freight subsidies and water infrastructure grants.

The new Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water, Kevin Humphries, says he's been discussing what he can do to try to help with his state government counterparts.

He says many farmers in the north west of the state have gone without income for more than a year and are facing the real prospect of having to survive for another two years before making any money.

"They're carrying forward obviously a difficult position a lot of them, and we're very mindful of that.

"The people in that part of the world that are finding it difficult are wanting more assistance obviously for transport subsidies for stock and fodder either to move stock to agistment or to bring fodder back in.

"There's a bit of a way to work through on that and that's an issue I'm very well aware of and that's being discussed also with other ministers," he said.

Minister Humphries says a natural disaster declaration for the north west is unlikely, and wouldn't necessarily trigger any other forms of state government assistance.

"Emergency and natural disasters are really declared around catastrophic events; things like fire and floods, so there has been some discussion in the past that drought could be, or should be declared a natural disaster.

"There's probably a lot more people that would oppose that.

"It's a climatic event, it creeps up on you and a lot of people would argue that how you manage your way through that, is probably more the focus," he said.


© ABC 2014

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