State budget drought programs announcement a shot in arm for agriculture

The State Government’s 2021 budget announcement that they will develop a suite of programs for drought-affected producers, and for producers to prepare for future droughts, is welcome news for agriculture and AgForce.

AgForce General President Georgie Somerset said the not-for-profit peak industry body had been at the forefront of drought reform for more than five years, and the organisation’s strong and sustained lobbying of government had proven key to bringing about this fantastic result.

“Despite patchy rainfall throughout 2021, 65 per cent of Queensland is still in drought and looks like remaining drought declared for some time,” Ms Somerset said.

“This announcement by the State Government as part of their budget commitments guarantees there will be no changes to current drought support already in place.

“What it adds, however, is greater access for producers to programs that focus on preparation and resilience for the inevitable droughts that will develop in the coming years.

“The new programs announced in the budget are heavily influenced by AgForce’s lobbying and borrow directly from our Agricultural Business Cycle developed in the long form policy work we’ve carried out since 2015.

“Compared to other sectors of the economy, Australian agriculture operates in a highly variable business environment, with dry periods a recurring feature.

“This new suite of programs recognises the importance of preparation, with support for farm businesses across all four phases of the drought cycle: ‘Normal’, ‘Drying’, ‘Dry’, and ‘Recovery’, enhancing our industry’s people, their businesses, and the landscape – an approach that supports both commercial and human resilience.”

Ms Somerset said AgForce also welcomed the whole of agriculture, cross-commodity approach of the new programs.

“These drought programs will be available across all broadacre commodities, including being extended to the cane and grains sectors, opening up drought assistance to a whole range of farming families doing it tough,” Ms Somerset said.

“We are also pleased to see that responsibility for the administration and rollout of these programs will rest with the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA), an arm of government long respected when it comes to delivering financial assistance for rural and regional communities.

“AgForce will of course be there every step of the way for our members, to not only guide them through the detail, but to ensure they understand how they can best access these programs and put themselves in the best position possible to combat not only this current drought, but to withstand future droughts when they arise.”

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