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Farm and forestry businesses affected by the bushfire emergency will get the help they need to rebuild with an initial $100 million in emergency bushfire funding. 

Member for Calare, Andrew Gee, said the Australian Government would provide up to $75,000 in grants to assist primary producers recover from the bushfires in the Lithgow and Mid-Western Local Government Areas.

“We will do whatever it takes to support those communities and businesses hit by these fires, and if we need to do more, we will,” Mr Gee said.

“I need to stress this is an uncapped program, so if demand for support goes above $100 million, Federal money will continue to flow.

“As the scale of the damage becomes apparent, it is clear that our farm and forestry businesses need support and, along with communities who depend on them - we will help them rebuild and we will continue to be there’re for them.”

Mr Gee said this funding would support primary producers to access essentials like fodder and water, while also help rebuild fencing, pay for veterinary fees or hire vital agricultural equipment like water pumps, irrigation systems and generators.

“These Federal grants of up to $75,000 will help get them the equipment they need to start rebuilding,” he said.

As with the grants for the North Queensland floods in early 2019, funds under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement will be made available to state governments of impacted communities, on request, for delivery through their relevant state disaster response agency.

“This is critical support for primary producers to meet their immediate needs in getting their agriculture businesses back up and running where those needs are not covered under existing insurance policies,” Mr Gee said.

Farmers who have been tackling the drought and have off-farm income won’t be disadvantaged, as the same off-farm income rules for the Farm Household Allowance drought measure will apply (currently just over $100,000).

This means farmers that aren’t eligible for current Category C disaster payments due to off-farm income rules, will still be eligible for up to $75,000 to help them normalise their farm businesses as quickly as possible.

The Government will also provide $15 million to fund 60 additional rural financial counsellors and support workers. 

Already the Rural Financial Counselling Service is on the ground providing free financial counselling to our farmers in times of need with now approximately 180 counsellors located within key agricultural communities across Australia.

Funding will be available through the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program. This assistance will be provided through a joint Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement between states and territories and the Commonwealth Government. 

Further details will be announced as soon as state-based delivery arrangements are confirmed. For more information on the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program please contact 1800 900 090.