Help for dust-affected farmers

FARMERS affected by severe dust storms that blanketed NSW last month can now apply for natural disaster assistance, the NSW Government says.

Sydneysiders awoke to a haze of vibrant red on September 23 after the dust storm originating in SA rolled across NSW and over the Blue Mountains to the city.

However, in addition to creating spectacular scenes, the tonnes of airborne soil left a repair bill nearing $500,000 and caused the death of more than 2000 head of livestock in the western division of NSW.

Large amounts of highly abrasive fine sand in that region, which covers almost half of the State, blasted vegetation, covered infrastructure and killed stock.

More than $318,000 in stock losses has been reported, with the death of 2330 sheep and 30 cattle, NSW Minister for Lands Tony Kelly said.

“Repair costs to excavate sand from water points, troughs, stock yards and fences are expected to be at least $439,000,” Mr Kelly said in a statement.

Farmers in the western division are now eligible to apply for assistance through the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.

Mr Kelly said assistance comes in the form of loans of up to $130,000.

“These loans are for the repair or replacement of property and infrastructure, including damage to pasture and crops,” he said.

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