Taking the Strain off Burnt-Out Farmers Replacing Boundary Fences
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:
- Owners of rural holdings (defined by Local Government), including Aboriginal Land Councils, with boundary fencing adjoining public lands are eligible where their fencing was destroyed or significantly damaged during the 2019/20 bushfire season.
- Landholders must live in a disaster declared Local Government Area (LGA) to be eligible to receive funding under the ‘Supporting our Neighbours’ project. A full list of declared LGAs is available onlinewww.emergency.nsw.gov.au/pages/publications/natural-disaster-declarations/2019-2020.aspx
- Eligible landholders will receive a one-off grant of up to $5,000 per kilometre to purchase fencing materials.
- The total value of each grant will be determined by the total length of the boundary fence shared with public lands.
- Landholders who have already repaired or replaced their boundary fencing bordering public lands since during the 2019/20 bushfire season are also eligible for retrospective funding.
- For the purposes of these grants, Crown Lands include; National Parks, Forestry Corporation land, Traveling Stock Reserves, Crown Reserves, tenured roads and leases, and roads managed by RMS or Local Government.
- To apply, landholders must register their interest by one of three methods:
- Contacting 1300 778 080
- Completing an online registration form at www.lls.nsw.gov.au
- Expressing their interest for a call-back service via one of the 11 regional LLS Facebook pages
Preventing the spread of COVID-19:
- Given the need for social distancing restrictions introduced as a result of COVID-19, the eligibility of all grant recipients will be confirmed via telephone and desk-top assessment.
- All agreements and processing of grant payments will be made electronically.
- Where a landholder does not have internet or mobile phone access, Local Land Services staff will work with them to find a suitable alternative.