The Queensland Government is investing millions of dollars to help producers better manage drought and climate events with new tools including more reliable forecasting, insurance products and customised climate information.
Visiting the University of Southern Queensland campus at Toowoomba on Wednesday, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner said the $21 million Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP) was a partnership with leading scientists and industry to assist the grazing, cropping and horticulture industries.
“USQ is delivering two DCAP projects through the Queensland Drought Mitigation Centre to better understand droughts and climate variability,” Mr Furner said.
“The Northern Australia Climate Program (NACP) is an $8 million partnership between the Queensland Government, USQ and Meat and Livestock Australia Donor Company to help the grazing industry better manage drought and climate risks.
“The project is improving reliability of multi-week, seasonal and multi-year forecasts, and establishing a network of ‘Climate Mates’ to support the delivery of customised climate information and products into regional networks to help with business decision-making.
“USQ has also partnered with the Queensland Farmer’s Federation (QFF) and international insurance company Willis Towers Watson to research and develop innovative and affordable insurance products tailored to Queensland’s cropping and horticulture industries.
Mr Furner said the team was working with a local dryland cropping farmer to discuss coverage of production costs if there’s insufficient rainfall/soil moisture during the fallow season, and if viable, this soil moisture index product could have wide usage for dryland cropping throughout Queensland and nationally.
“Another local DCAP project is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the Bureau of Meteorology looking at improved forecasts for the vegetable industry.
“Improving multi-week and seasonal forecasts and extreme weather events such as storms and heat waves will help improve farm, business and labour management decisions and these are being trialled in the Lockyer Valley and Granite Belt regions.
“DCAP’s projects will assist our primary producers and the agri-business sector in the Darling Downs and right across Queensland to manage the negative impacts of severe climate events and take better advantage of good seasons when they occur.”
Mr Furner said many primary producers were doing it tough in the drought, and renewed his call for the Federal Government to move quickly to support drought-stricken farmers with emergency water infrastructure.
“The Queensland Government has provided a 50 per cent rebate on emergency water infrastructure since 2013, but the Federal Government stopped its 25 per cent top-up to the rebate in 2015, leaving more than 2600 Queensland farmers out of pocket,” Mr Furner said.
“The Prime Minister has said he would restore the rebate in a suite of measures to take effect in 2020, but our farmer’s need this support now.
“It’s a shame Scott Morrison hasn’t taken time on his current Queensland bus tour to talk to the farmers who have missed out on this support.”
Mr Furner has written to his federal counterpart David Littleproud calling for the 25 per cent federal rebate top-up to be paid retrospectively to Queensland farmers who missed out.