Ag White Paper strengthens our approach to drought and risk management
5 July 2015
Through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Australian Government will invest $2.97 billion to support farmers and rural communities to strengthen drought preparedness and risk management.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the new initiatives complemented the $333 million package announced on 9 May, 2015, that was focused on immediate in-drought relief for farming families and their communities.
"Investing in better drought and risk management is an investment in our nation's future prosperity and the stability of our rural communities," Minister Joyce said.
"The better our farmers can prepare for, manage, and recover from adverse conditions like drought, the stronger the agricultural sector's contribution to our national economy will be.
"The drought and risk management measures under the White Paper will provide certainty and help drive long-term growth and prosperity by encouraging better preparedness."
Through the White Paper, the government will deliver:
- better financial preparedness and risk management with $29.9 million for farm insurance advice and assessments
- changes to the Farm Management Deposit scheme to allow farmers to better manage fluctuations in income
- more localised, more accurate and more frequent information and seasonal forecasts through a $3.3 million investment
- more help for recipients of the Farm Household Allowance in their third year of the entitlement, along with continued access to rural financial counselling and social and community support
- new drought concessional loans scheme with $250 million available annually for ten years from 2016–17
- more favourable depreciation arrangements for water facilities and fodder storage, worth an estimated $86 million
- support for rural communities through $35 million for shovel ready projects and $25.8 million to manage pest animals and weeds
"Some of the in-drought support measures I announced as part of the Budget in recognition of the need for support in some parts of Australia. Others are new, such as the $29.9 million to help improve farm risk management. This is timely, with the Australian market for insurance products to help farmers manage risk, such as multi-peril crop insurance, expanding.
"In line with the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform, to which all Australian governments are party, all these measures will support stronger, more resilient and better prepared farm businesses. However, even well prepared farmers can require assistance in extreme droughts.
"Our in-drought support measures will provide greater certainty about what help is available to farm businesses during drought.
"We will implement a new drought concessional loans scheme, with a loan fund of up to $250 million per year over the next 10 years, starting from 2016–17. In the meantime, we have made another $250 million available by extending the Drought and Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Schemes for a further 12 months. These schemes will complement commercial finance to help farmers in the short-term when income is tight.
"We will also re-establish early access provisions for Farm Management Deposits, to allow farmers to access these funds in times of drought without losing their taxation benefit.
"These support and preparedness measures have been informed by more than 1000 submissions received over 18 months, during a time when conditions have continued to deteriorate. I am glad that our producers who contribute so much to our nation's prosperity now have certainty about the assistance available to them.
"This white paper delivers real actions that will mean better farmgate prices and that means supporting the sector that contributed $51 billion to the economy in 2013-14 during the tough times."
The White Paper was informed by comprehensive stakeholder consultation—more than 1000 submissions were received and the government talked face-to-face with more than 1100 people across the country in developing this document. The White Paper is available at agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.