Bushfire recovery package for NSW agriculture

By Country News

The NSW Government has announced a $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package to support forestry, horticulture and agriculture industries impacted by the summer's bushfires.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the package aimed to help industries significantly impacted by bushfires rebuild.

“Bushfire impacted towns cannot afford to suffer further job losses and economic downturn, which is why we are delivering this funding to keep our key regional industries in business,” Mr Barilaro said.

NSW Farmers president James Jackson welcomed the package but said it should invest in localised food and fibre processing.

“Rebuilding is important, but let’s also look at a stimulus for new investment in regional food and fibre processing, either on farm or in towns,” he said.

“This will create opportunities for farm diversification, create regional jobs and further enhance food security in NSW.”

Mr Jackson said the bushfires had a large impact on many regional economies, and COVID-19 restrictions have added stress to regional business across the state.

NSW Farmers put forward a targeted stimulus package to the state and federal governments that identified options to reduce or remove supply chain issues in fresh food and fibre production and provide a boost to regional economies.

“Opportunities exist for the establishment of small scale processing plants close to growers to extend product freshness and shelf-life and support market expansion,” Mr Jackson said.

“Building on the concept of micro-breweries, consideration should be given to grant funding for micro-processing.

“Other practical measures would be to reintroduce the flying fox netting program, which has had great success in protecting fruit crops, and Energy Sustainability Rebates for primary producers to assist with the adoption of renewable energy systems.”

Details of funding criteria, including amounts available for businesses under the package, will be available with the release of program guidelines in coming weeks.