A new approach to drought policy is set to be rolled out nationally after Federal, state and territory primary industries ministers signed up to the National Drought Reform Program earlier today.
The intergovernmental agreement effectively locks in the commitment of the state and territory governments to work with the Federal Government to reform national drought policy.
The reforms move away from the existing approach to drought support, which is based around exceptional circumstances declarations and assistance measures.
Federal agriculture minister Joe Ludwig has described the existing model as ‘inadequate’, because it "merely responds to drought instead equipping farmers with the tools to face and emerge from drought".
“The agreement today progresses our plan to make farmers more prepared for future challenges and droughts,” Mr Ludwig said.
“The agreement clearly outlines the role for each government to deliver certain programs both before and during drought. It is an important step in the reform process started by the Federal Government.”
For the first time, today’s agreement binds all governments to the reform program.
The drought reform package agreed with the states and territories includes five elements:
- a farm household support payment;
- taxation measures including recently announced enhancements to the Farm Management Deposits Scheme;
- a national approach to farm business training;
- a coordinated, collaborative approach to the provision of social support services; and
- tools and technologies to inform farmer decision making.
“While we are moving to a greater focus on risk management and preparedness, we recognise there are still concerns about what will be in place when a severe drought hits,” Minister Ludwig said.
“In addition to confirming the drought package, the agreement gives governments the flexibility to increase or introduce support to farmers, or their communities, if conditions worsen. The agreement outlines ways this can occur while remaining consistent with our reform goals.”
Minister Ludwig said the Federal Government, all states and the Northern Territory signed the agreement, with the Australian Capital Territory expected to sign shortly.
The agreement was developed following a national review of drought policy, a drought pilot in Western Australia and consultation with agricultural industries.
- For more information about the drought program visit www.daff.gov.au/drought
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