With over 70% of Qld being drought declared, the Banana, Bundaberg, Cherbourg Aboriginal, Fraser Coast, Gympie, North and South Burnett and Somerset regions have now been drought-declared. This means that dairy farmers can claim a range of benefits from the government which may be included in the drought-relief assistance schemes. (e.g. for electricity charges, water fees, land rent rebates, land rent deferrals, transport-related measures and concessional loans scheme.
Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS)
The DRAS provides assistance to drought-declared properties including:
- transport of fodder freight subsidy
- transport of water freight subsidy
- Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate (EWIR), which provides a rebate on the purchase and installation of water infrastructure purchased for animal welfare needs.
- Drought management plan
- Individually droughted property
As well, properties that have had their drought declaration revoked may be eligible for freight subsidies for transporting livestock returning from assignment or purchased for restocking.
DRAS generally provides a maximum of $20,000 per property per financial year on all freight subsidy and rebate types but this can increase incrementally up to $40,000 as drought continues.
Producers in a drought-declared area or who have an individually drought-affected property (IDP) declaration can apply for DRAS support through DAF. Further information can be found HERE.
Drought relief from electricity charges rebate scheme (DRECS)
The Department of Energy and Water Supply operates the DRECS for customers in Energex areas and non-Ergon Retail customers in regional areas. The scheme provides relief from fixed charges for accounts that use electricity to pump water for farm or irrigation purposes during periods of very low or no water availability. If you are an Ergon Energy customer seeking relief from electricity charges, please call 13 10 46 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Water fee relief
Annual water licence fees from 1 July 2016 until 30 June 2017 will be waived for Queensland producers in drought-declared areas from the date of their drought declaration. Affected landholders will be advised by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines of the waiver by letter.
Drought assistance land rent rebate
Holders of rural leases (Category 11 leases used for grazing and primary production) issued under the Land Act 1994 are eligible for a rebate of 12% of their annual rent where that annual rent is more than the minimum rent of $235. The rebate is available for leases that are in drought-declared areas and for those that have an IDP. Landholders who are eligible for the rebate will receive information with their annual/quarterly invoices.
Transport-related drought assistance measures
Drought assistance measures provided by the Department of Transport and Main Roads include:
- permits for increasing the maximum hay loading height
- concessions on shifting droughted livestock
- waivers and greater flexibility on certain vehicle registration conditions and fees and charges
- increased school transport allowances for some families that drive their children to school or connect with a school bus run
Drought Concessional Loans Scheme
- Drought Concessional Loans to assist farm businesses to manage, recover from and prepare for droughts are available at a variable interest rate of 2.47 from 1 February 2017. It can be used to restructure debt and/or provide new debt for operating expenses, drought preparedness activities or drought recovery activities. Information on the Drought Assistance Concessional Loans is available HERE. If you have any queries regarding drought specific schemes for Queensland please call: 1800 623 946
- Loan amounts can be up to 50% of a farm business’ final debt position to a maximum of $1 million. Maximum loan terms of up to ten years apply, with interest only repayments initially available for up to five years. The scheme will close to applications on 30 June 2017 or earlier if funds are spent.
- Detailed eligibility criteria are available in the scheme Guidelines HERE. A Drought Management Plan is available in the scheme's Application Form HERE.
- You must submit a valid Bureau of Meteorology 'Rainfall Deficiency Report'. This shows whether your farm business is located in an area that has experienced a rainfall deficiency equivalent to, or worse than, a 1 in 20 year rainfall event. A Rainfall Deficiency Report that shows your property is located outside an area that has experienced a rainfall deficiency equivalent to, or worse than, a 1 in 20 year rainfall event does not necessarily mean that you are ineligible for assistance.
A Rainfall Deficiency Report can be obtained using the Bureau of Meteorology's Australian Rainfall Deficiency Analyser. To generate a report:
- Locate your farm business by using the (+) or (-) buttons to zoom in or out on the website: Australian Rainfall Deficiency Analyser.
- To ensure the necessary accuracy in obtaining a valid Rainfall Deficiency Report, continue using the zoom function until you have positively identified the location of your property. To avoid selecting a neighbouring property in error, make your selection well within your property boundaries. An incorrect report will cause delays in processing your application.
- Once you have accurately located your farm business, click your mouse and an option to download a Rainfall Deficiency Report becomes available. Click on (download report), and then print the Rainfall Deficiency Report and attach it to your loan application.
- Alternatively, you may enter the individual latitude and longitude co-ordinates of your farm business location (if known).
Your Rainfall Deficiency Report will be valid for 60 days and forms part of your loan application. If you are unable to lodge your application within 60 days you need to obtain a new report. The Australian Rainfall Deficiency Analyser is updated on the 23rd of each month (or next business day). When assessing applications, QRAA will verify information provided by applicants.
QDO will mail all members in drought declared areas a drought relief assistance pack in the next week.
If you need further assistance please call the QDO office on (07) 3236 2955.