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Fee cut helps farmers

Tuesday, 23rd March, 2021

By Emily McInerney

The waiving of Local Land Services rates has been welcomed by pastoralists and politicans.

The NSW Government has once again waived Local Land Services (LLS) rates for 2021, as farmers across the Barwon region work towards drought recovery.

NSW Nationals Upper House MP, Sam Farraway said the region’s farmers have been doing it tough over the past three years, and while conditions have improved significantly, drought recovery does not happen overnight.

The Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling welcomed the news.

“Waiving Local Land Services rates is in line with drought support recommenda- tions from the Pastoralistsí Association,” Association Councillor Lachlan Gall said.

“Waiving rates is a good way to deliver a drought relief to drought affected pastoral- ists, as every pastoral business will receive this benefit on a fair and equitable basis.”

But he warned that many of the other support measures are actually out of reach of drought affected individuals.

“Tight eligibility criteria means that many do not actually qualify for support, and the extensive red tape associated with applying for support is a disincentive in itself.

The 2017/2020 drought has been described as the worst in living memory by those that experienced the severe World War II Drought, and every drought since.

“Pastoralists spent a lot of money buy- ing feed to keep their core breeders alive through the drought, or are having to fork out big dollars to buy replacement breeders.

“The money saved on LLS Rates can in turn be spent in the local community.”

Mr Gall, from Langawirra Station, said financial drought lingers longer for farm- ers once the meteorological drought has broken.

“For sheep producers, the lag time between drought breaking rain and actually having something to sell is at least twelve months, and for cattle producers it can take eighteen months before they are in a posi- tion to sell cattle,” he said.

Many of the Associationís members are still not at the stage of being able to say that the drought is broken on their properties, with rainfall across far west NSW in the last 12 months best described as patchy.

“Rain over the weekend will be a terrific boost for pastoralists up north in the Corner Country, but once again many areas missed out on the heavier falls.”

The far west (and north east of SA) really needs good general rains before winter sets in, Mr Gall said.

“There is an old adage that says “you need a flood to break a drought”, and most of far west NSW is still waiting for that flood, at a time where it seems that the rest of NSW is underwater.”

The news was also welcomed by Barwon MP Roy Butler.

“The announcement that Local Land Service Rates will be waived for a further 12 months is a welcome one,” Mr Butler said.

“This will mean a bit more cash in farm- ersí pockets as we continue to battle drought in some parts of Barwon - and recover from drought in other areas.

“While some farmers have had a record grain harvest our communities have a long way to go in recovery.

“Cash flow into some farming businesses won’t return to normal for a number of sea- sons ñ this money will help to get people a bit further down the path of recovery.

“Ratepayers will get a notice in the next few weeks letting them know that their rates have been waived.

“When it comes to drought and drought support the NSW Government dropped the ball, but I must say the waiving of the Local Land Service rates is one of their better decisions. It will keep money in people’s bank accounts not in the Government’s coffers.

“What we’re not seeing from the NSW Government now is a structured approach to drought and drought recovery being developed.

“We know that we will end up back in drought one day the biggest cost of this recent drought would be to fail to learn from it and plan for the next one.”

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