New Drought Strategy Receives Support30 October 2012
AUSTRALIA - Reform of Australia’s drought policy is another step closer with Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments today agreeing on the framework for a new national drought package focussed on risk management and preparedness rather than crisis management.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said the new national framework, scheduled to be implemented from 1 July 2014, will help farmers proactively address risks and prepare for challenges associated with drought.
“The agreement is an important step forward for drought management in this country,” Minister Ludwig said.
“Drought is part and parcel of Australia’s climate, but its effects represent one of the biggest challenges to our agriculture sector.
“The new drought package agreed on will assist farmers, industry and government to get on the front foot. This move to preparedness will mean stronger, more resilient farming businesses.”
Primary Industries Ministers from across the country agreed at the Standing Council of Primary Industries (SCoPI) meeting in New Zealand that a new package should include:
- a farm household support payment
- promotion of Farm Management Deposits and taxation measures
- a national approach to farm business training
- a coordinated, collaborative approach to the provision of social support services
- tools and technologies to inform farmer decision making.
There will be national cooperation and coordination to deliver the package.
Ministers also requested further consideration be given to in–drought support consistent with agreed reform principles.
Minister Ludwig said programmes included in the new package will be available at all times, without the need for a drought or Exceptional Circumstances declaration.
“This Government is committed to putting in place the right policies to assist farming families cope with the effects of drought into the future,” he said.
“However, until the new programmes are implemented there will still be assistance available to farming families suffering hardship.
“This includes the Transitional Farm Family Payment, which provides up to 12 months of income support as well as individualised case management to help families in hardship improve their long term security. The payment is available with or without an EC declaration.
“In addition, Exceptional Circumstances assistance through the EC Relief Payment will still be available if an area is EC–declared prior to the new programmes being implemented.”
Farmers are also eligible for the Farm Management Deposits Scheme to help manage fluctuations in their income, and can also access the Rural Financial Counselling Service.
Implementation is scheduled from 1 July 2014, subject to each government agreeing to the package through their normal budget processes. Details of the programmes in the package will be announced as Commonwealth, State and Territory Budgets are finalised.
ThePigSite News Desk