BUSHFIRE-AFFECTED farmers and landholders across the region will now have access to their share of more than $209 million to help cover the cost of rebuilding boundary fences, after Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall launched a new funding program over the weekend.
Mr Marshall said the new initiative, funded through the government’s $2.3 billion COVID-19 stimulus package, would not only help farmers recover, but would provide a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for the region’s local economies at a critical time.
The program provides grants to private landholders up to $5,000 per kilometre of boundary fencing with adjoining State Government owned land to help with the cost of fencing replacement.
“In the space of only a few hours last year the devastating Bees Nest fire at Ebor, which is believed to have started in the Guy Fawkes National Park, swept through multiple properties and incinerated productive grazing land and hundreds of kilometres of vital farm fences,” Mr Marshall said.
“It breaks my heart to hear how difficult it has been for farmers since then to get help from the State Government to rebuild those fences which are vital for keeping livestock in and pest animals out.
“Under this package, we will provide up to $5,000 per kilometre for the purchase of materials to rebuild existing fences adjoining public lands damaged by the summer fires, which will go a long way to helping farmers cover the cost.
“Under current legislation the NSW Government isn’t required to pay for restoring damaged dividing fences adjoining Crown lands, but this is about helping bushfire-affected communities get back on their feet.
“This is a great opportunity for all landholders to engage the services of their local contractors at a time when supporting local businesses has never been more vital.”
Mr Marshall said the funding would be delivered through a one-off grant, which would also be issued retrospectively to help cover the costs already incurred by landholders.
“I know all too well replacing boundary fencing has been a major issue for fire-affected farmers and the government has listened to those concerns,” Mr Marshall said.
“We will have dedicated boundary fence co-ordinators within Local Lands Services working with farmers to identify their needs and negotiate with the public land managers to ensure money gets into farmers’ pockets as soon as possible.
“The grants are also uncapped, which means a farmer who has a large boundary with National Parks of 30 kilometres will receive up to the full $150,000.
“I’m urging farmers and landholders to use this opportunity to upgrade their fencing bordering public lands and use fire resilient materials wherever possible. Landholders who have already started rebuilding can still receive a backdated payment.”
For more information about the program visit www.lls.nsw.gov.au. Eligible landholders can apply for the program online at the LLS website, or by calling 1300 778 080.
About the ‘Supporting our Neighbours’ project:
Preventing the spread of COVID-19: