With more than half of Queensland still drought declared, there are many farmers throughout the state who are hurting, and the prolonged nature of this drought is taking an enormous toll on many regional communities.
This week I had the opportunity to represent drought-affected Queensland primary producers at a roundtable meeting in Canberra.
The meeting was chaired by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and attended by the National Farmers’ Federation, state farming organisations and banking representatives.
The roundtable was the next step in the process after the Prime Minister’s recent visit to drought-affected areas in western Queensland, and the subsequent announcement of an extension of the Farm Household Allowance from three to four years.
It’s clear that collaboration between governments at all levels, the financial sector and primary producers will be the key to developing an enduring drought policy.
I was pleased the Minister was willing to engage further on AgForce’s ‘Agricultural Business Cycle’ concept. The aim of our proposal is to empower producers and improve policy settings to minimise the social, environmental and financial effects of drought.
The cycle promotes preparedness, mutual obligations and building business resilience, and observes the effects of drought beyond the event itself. It is intended to enable producers to take back ownership of risk management, preparedness and accessing the type of assistance we need when we need it while managing drought.
Other discussions at the roundtable centred on the need for banks to offer offset accounts for farm management deposits, improving financial literacy and removing stamp duty on multi-peril crop insurance.
Overall, the roundtable was a constructive step towards the development of a better, long lasting drought policy framework, with the Minister flagging a number of investigations under way and more announcements in the future to assist drought-affected communities.