IT'S predicted the government's promise of $500,000 interest-free loans will help small businesses weather the drought and keep their doors open.
Although many farmers are not enthusiastic about the government's announcement of additional loans - interest-free or otherwise - the move has been applauded by the regional business community.
Small businesses dependant on agriculture will have access to concessional loans of up to $500,000, with a two-year interest-free period, and interest-only repayments in years three to five.
NSW Business Chamber regional manager for the New England North West, Joe Townsend, said overall the drought-relief package looked promising.
"The package will definitely help those struggling at the moment by reducing overheads with loans and easing the financial burden," Mr Townsend said.
A $500,000 loan for most small businesses would be "substantial".
"That will probably help keep the doors open for the next couple of years," Mr Townsend said.
"This is a great innovative step to help small businesses that aren't necessarily farmers."
To qualify for the loan, an agriculture-dependant businesses must have 19 or less employees.
Mr Townsend said he'd like to see some more details around who is defined as an "agriculture-dependant business".
So far the government has signalled businesses such as harvesting and shearing contractors, livestock transport providers, stock and station agents and agricultural equipment and repair providers will all be eligible.
"We need to look at how deep the benefits are to the broader community, or if it rests immediately with those in the agriculture sector," Mr Townsend said.
"But the questions is always what can we do for other businesses? Obviously the government should assess how it can help the broader community moving forward."
New England MP Barnaby Joyce said the Nationals fought hard for the concessional loans.
"Because it's not just a drought for the farmers, it's a drought for the people in the town as well," Mr Joyce said.
"This will certainly be an advantage to many small businesses and give them hope to get by until the drought finishes."
Drought-affected councils will also be given a $1-million grant, aimed at boosting job-creation with infrastructure projects.
Tamworth Regional Council previously used a similar grant to install nine bulk water refill stations across the region, and upgrade stock ramps and roads.