The impact of drought on our primary producers and regional communities has really captured the attention of the nation in recent weeks. More than half of Queensland is drought declared and many areas have been for more than six years now, overwhelming even the best efforts of producers to prepare.
AgForce has been advocating for many years for governments at all levels to ensure producers have both the immediate support they need to get through this current drought, as well as long term policy certainty to promote better planning and risk management.
It’s been pleasing to see initiatives AgForce has championed finally get adopted, including a review and extension of the Farm Household Allowance, as well as an increase in the assets cap, which should ensure more farmers are eligible for assistance.
The emergency cash payments announced by the Prime Minister over the weekend will help farmers who have had little or no income, while the extra funding for the Rural Financial Counselling Service is also welcome. We urge farmers to use this free service and seek advice on how to apply for the Farm Household Allowance, especially now the assets threshold has been lifted.
I’d also like to thank all the private sector organisations, charities, media outlets and individuals who are providing support for drought-affected communities. It has been heartening to see Australians rally around our farmers and rural towns during these tough times.
AgForce will continue to advocate for further government measures to provide relief to drought-affected communities, including investment in capital works projects, council rates and land rent rebates, and increased education support for children from remote areas.
We’ll also keep pushing for long term policy certainty and the adoption of our ‘Agricultural Business Cycle’ approach.
Drought has such a big impact on Australian agriculture and extended dry periods are a recurring feature so we need governments at all levels and politicians on all sides to come together with industry to work on a sustainable approach to managing this issue now and into the future.