A South Coast farmer says he's been denied a drought loan as the mapping system used for accessing farm loans leaves him 'drought affected' but not in drought, relying on a UN-based classification for 'desertification'.
The Rural Investment Corporation (RIC) though says anyone who is not eligible under the mapping system for a Drought Loan (up to $2 million), can still apply for a Farm Investment Loan.
Milton dairy farmer Rob Miller said when he phoned the RIC he was told he did not qualify because "my farm is not included in a drought mapped area".
"When I asked which map, they referred me to the NSW DPI drought map. According to that map, Milton and most of the South Coast is drought affected, but not classified as in drought or in severe drought."
But Mr Miller said the reality on the ground was very different. "I am currently buying up to 100 tonnes of hay a week and 75t of additional grain pellets to feed stock." He has been hand-feeding all spring.
Mr Miller said he called the NSW DPI and was told he was "in a long-term and severe drought event" for 30 months.
Mr Miller claims that the DPI was unaware funding decisions by RIC were being made based on their drought map, but The Land understands the mapping is based on a UN desertification rating, based on statistics supplied by ABARES over 20 years.
The RIC said in a statement: "If a farm business is seeking a RIC Drought Loan for drought management or recovery activities, it needs to be located on the eligible area map".
"These are 'affected areas' as defined by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. It will need to demonstrate it has experienced a significant financial impact as a direct result of the effects of drought.
"There was criticism that the Australian Rainfall Deficiency Analyser was not fit for purpose, including that the maps were changing constantly. Our map is a static map based on 30 years of data and gives farmers certainty about their eligibility. These areas have been identified as being affected or threatened by desertification, and it is in these areas that the effects of drought are more often felt as rainfall is so variable.
"The eligibility map draws on the constitutional basis for the drought loans offered by the RIC, that is implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification. The eligibility map reflects the 'affected areas' as defined in the convention. Arid, semi-arid and dry-sub humid regions as defined by the agreement have been mapped by ABARES using long term data."