Drought support offered for Aussie farmers

Greta Stonehouse

With 99 per cent of NSW and nearly 60 per cent of Queensland in drought, relief efforts have been ramped up.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

* Federal government has a $190 million package, including payments up to $12,000 for drought-affected farmers in the southern half of the country. Up to $1 million for community-led mental health and community resilience initiatives.

* About 19,000 farmers potentially eligible for the allowance are yet to sign up.

* In June the government extended the Farm Household Allowance scheme from three-to-four years. Farmers can access a payment equivalent to the unemployment benefit (about $16,000 a year).

* The federal government has spent $576 million on relief

* Queensland has allocated more than $670 million to grants, loans, infrastructure projects and climate adaptation programs.

* NSW has provided an extra $500 million in support, including $190 million in transport subsidies, taking the total package to $1 billion.

CHARITIES

* The Australian Red Cross has set up The Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal to run until the end of August.

* Salvation Army's rural chaplains are visiting farms and communities, distributing food hampers, helping with bills, household jobs, work around the farm and emotional support.

BANKS

* Commonwealth has donated $2 million in relief - $1.75 million to the Australian Red Cross appeal; $250,000 to Rural Aid's Buy a Bale program.

* National Australia Bank has promised not to charge affected farmers higher default interest rates on loan repayments and to offset farm management deposits - along with Rural Bank and Commonwealth Bank.

BUSINESS

* Coles - $5 million in grants and interest-free loans from its Nurture Fund, while funds raised in supermarkets go to the Country Women's Association.

* Woolworths - $1.5 million to Rural Aid's Buy a Bale program and donating all profits from fresh food sales on Saturday August 11.

SOCIAL

* An initiative targeting children encourages them to donate $5 to drought-stricken farmers and spread the word via social media with the hashtag #Igaveahalfbanj.