At a meeting in Canberra today, the NFF and its Members agreed on a new approach to how our country prepares for, manages through and recovers from drought.
“As we close in on another summer, one of the most severe droughts on record continues to challenge our farming families and rural and regional Australia as a whole,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
“We appreciate the priority the Morrison Government has placed on assisting our drought-impacted farmers and communities. More than $7.1 billion in drought support from the Federal Government is an unprecedented investment.
“It is critically important, however, that as we live through the hardships of this drought that we take steps to ensure we are better prepared for the next.”
“Until now, as a country, we have failed to establish a comprehensive, national policy that guides us in effectively doing this.”
Ms Simson said the NFF had consulted extensively with its Members to develop the approach.
The NFF’s National Drought Policy sets out to:
– Bring all stakeholders impacted by drought to the table including industry, community groups, local government as well as state and territory governments and the Commonwealth.
– Identify specific drought measures that need to be maintained, amended, or reviewed; and to propose new drought measures.
– Build on the COAG National Drought Agreement and incorporate lessons learnt from past droughts.
– Create a Drought Forum that allows all stakeholders to provide input, every two years, in drought and out of drought, on what has worked and what has not.
– Establish a Drought Committee responsible for overseeing implementation of the National Drought Policy and specific drought measures, commissioning studies into the effectiveness of drought measures, reviewing the National Drought Policy and individual measures, and recommending changes through a four-yearly review.
“Following the endorsement of our Members, we will now reach out to the Australian community and invite input and support for this new approach.
“We look forward to hearing from other agricultural groups, rural community groups, and local government on how the National Drought Policy can incorporate what they see as their role in helping people prepare for, manage through, and recover from drought.
“We particularly seek the participation of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments in this endeavour.
“While this National Drought Policy comes too late to help those managing this drought, the NFF is determined to see that we don’t find ourselves, once again, without a plan for drought.
“We continue to consult with the Government about further measures to assist farmers during this drought, including recommendations for Commonwealth support for local government rate relief.
“There is only one silver bullet for solving drought and that’s rain. There is no man-made panacea or policy solution. But, the NFF is strongly of the view that , as a nation, can be do better than we have to date.
“It’s time to break the reactive drought policy cycle,” Ms Simson said.