Australia Weather News

Abundant rainfall across some parts of New South Wales has been enough to break the drought, with some farmers able to begin rebuilding what was lost during years of devastating dry conditions.

But in the far west of New South Wales, patchy rains have brought relief to very few properties while the majority have consistently missed out.

"For those people that have received rain ... it's been a massive relief and enabled those pastoralists to start rebuilding their flocks," said Lachlan Gall, grazier and vice president of the Pastoralists' Association of West Darling.

"But for others that are still waiting for rain, their properties look like the surface of the moon."

The NSW Government this week extended drought support measures to farmers navigating the recovery phase and buying back stock.

Farmers can apply for interest-free loans of up to $100,000 that must be paid back over five years after a two-year payment-free period.

The Government also extended the Drought Transport Subsidy to allow a 50 per cent freight rebate on the transport of restockers.

But not everybody is in a position to restock.

Mr Gall lives at Langawirra Station, one of the westernmost properties in the state, 80 kilometres from Broken Hill.

The Department of Primary Industries still declares much of the region surrounding Broken Hill as being in 'intense drought'.

Small falls of rain earlier in the year provided only temporary relief at Langawirra and Mr Gall said there are many pastoralists in the region who have not seen any effective rain since 2016.

"Broken Hill is currently experiencing it's driest three-year period in 120 years of records," he said.

Mr Gall praised the Government's new support measures for graziers recovering from the drought and looking to restock their properties.

But he said many were still waiting on financial assistance that had been promised.

"The majority of drought funding that has been announced hasn't actually been delivered because it's been tied up in unnecessary red tape," he said.

Won't help farmers that need it most, MP says

Member for Barwon Roy Butler, of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, represents an electorate that covers 44 per cent of New South Wales.

Much of that land is made up of vast outback properties that have weathered some of the worst drought conditions in a century.

Mr Butler said the Government's new drought support measures were excellent news for farmers that had received rain, but would not help landholders that were struggling the most.

"For the people that can access the loans it's probably very cheap money and that's great," he said.

"But for the people who are deep into the red who have already accessed equity and sold equipment and let staff go it's going to be very hard for them to meet the lending criteria to be able to access the loan."

Mr Butler said a grant support system similar to HECS-HELP loans for tertiary education courses — where eligible farmers could apply for up to $400,000 and repay half of the money when their income exceeded a specified threshold — would better support farmers who were still enduring drought.

ABC