MEDIA STATEMENT

Farmers will share in $100 million to plan for, manage and rebuild after drought, strengthening the agricultural sector and helping communities through more regular and intense dry spells.

The first round of funding from the $5 billion Future Drought Fund, announced today by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, includes $20 million for farm business planning  support, $10 million for climate information services to inform decisions, $20.3 million for drought resilience research, and $15 million for Natural Resource Management organisations, farmer groups and individuals to fund natural resource drought resilience projects.

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines said her office was briefed yesterday, ahead of the today’s announcement, about the current initiatives.

“This is a true win for farmers,” Dr Haines said.

“Drought is a regular fact of life for us. It impacts every part of our livelihoods – and not just for people living on the land.

“Our farmers work hard to adapt to changes in climate and longer periods of drought. This round of funding will help build sustainability, grow farm profits and keep our communities strong.

“These announcements today are the direct result of the work of former Independent Federal Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO.

“Cathy stuck up for the interests of farmers in Canberra and gained praise from the National Farmers’ Federation for amending and strengthening the legislation that created the Future Drought Fund.

“Her changes introduced accountability to the process of allocating funding money so that the Future Drought Fund can’t be used to pork-barrel.

“Because of her work this money will go towards real projects that deliver real results.

“This shows that Independents listen and deliver real-time benefits for farmers and people who live and work on the land and contribute to our country communities.”

The full list of programs announced today includes:

  • $20m Farm Business Resilience program will provide farm businesses with training to strengthen their strategic business management skills and develop a farm business plan to build risk management capacity and drought resilience.
  • $10m Climate Services for Agriculture program will fund the development and delivery of interactive digital ‘climate information services’ for the agriculture sector to assist farmers to make real-time decisions.
  • $3m Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool will provide an online self-assessment tool for farmers to self-identify drought risks based on a range of social, economic and environmental indicators, and take action to build the drought resilience of their farm business.
  • $20.3m Drought Resilience Research and Adoption program will establish two regionally located Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs, and Innovation Grants will become available to research organisations, private sector, industry, not-for-profit organisations and community groups.
  • $15m Natural Resource Management (NRM) Drought Resilience program will fund regional NRM bodies to undertake projects to build drought resilience of natural resources on agricultural landscapes, and there will also be grants available to organisations, farmer groups and individuals to undertake NRM projects to build the drought resilience of natural resources on small scales.
  • $3.75m Networks for Building Drought Resilience program will support community-driven projects that enhance drought resilience and strengthen networks, including small-scale infrastructure projects to make community facilities drought resilient.
  • $7.45m Drought Resilience Leaders program will develop leadership capability in communities and include a mentoring component to foster uptake of innovative practices to build drought resilience of farmers and their businesses.
  • $10m Regional Drought Resilience Planning will provide funding to consortia of local councils or equivalent entities to develop Regional Drought Resilience Plans for agriculture and allied industries.

More information about the Future Drought Fund can be found here: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/future-drought-fund

Images –

Above: Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines talking with Eldorado Road Wines’ vigneron Ben Dahlenburg (left) and Boorhaman and Rutherglen farmer Tom Briggs at Wangaratta show in October, 2019, about changing climate impacts on agriculture.

Below: Helen with Cudgewa farmers Stephen and Keenan Whitsed at their soil carbon and regeneration field day in October, 2019.

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