Media release

Forewarned is forearmed: $6.2m for better farm forecasting

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie​

June 2017

  • Meat & Livestock Australia will receive almost $6.2 million under Round 3 of the Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit programme for a project looking at ways to improve forecasting of extreme climate events.
  • Minister Joyce announced the grant during a visit to the operations centre of the Bureau of Meteorology, one of 14 project partners.
  • The project will help farmers better prepare for extreme climate events and increase productivity and profits through proactive management practices.

Predicting the weather will be an easier task for farmers, thanks to $6.2 million delivered to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) to improve seasonal forecasting of extreme weather events such as drought or frost.

On the ground at the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) operations centre in Melbourne today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, joined Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, to announce the project, funded under the third round of the Coalition Government's Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit programme.

"Here at the BoM operations centre today, I've been pleased to take a first-hand look at their world-class climate prediction system, which this project will use to develop new specially tailored forecasts so that farmers get the information they need to support decision-making on-farm," Minister Joyce said.

MLA will be collaborating with the BoM and 13 other partners across the dairy, beef, sheep, grains, sugar and wine industries to;

  • Identify what forecasting information on extreme events is needed for decision-making,
  • Develop new forecasts of extreme weather events using the BoM's world-class seasonal prediction system, and
  • Develop industry relevant tools for producers to help them understand how to use seasonal-forecasts of extreme climate events.

"This project also complements work by the BoM to develop a New seasonal forecasting system, funded under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, a project that involves ongoing work through to 2018–19 and will significantly improve the signal, resolution, accuracy and frequency of future seasonal forecasts," Minister Joyce said.

Senator McKenzie said it should be acknowledged that Australian farmers were already increasing productivity in the face of extreme weather conditions and that this project would be a practical step towards further limiting the effect that extreme climate events have on profits at the farmgate.

"Australian farmers operate in one of the most variable climates in the world and giving them the tools they need to change their management practices and better prepare for extreme events is vitally important to increasing returns at the farmgate,"Senator McKenzie said.

"Victoria represents just three per cent of Australia's land area, but is responsible for a whopping 25 per cent of our nation's agricultural production, with our gross value of agricultural production worth $13.1 billion in 2014–15.

"Ensuring our farmers have the best possible tools to manage increasing climate variability and the possibility of more frequent extreme weather events will not only benefit Victoria's farmers, but also our nation's food security."

Funding for the $180.5 million Rural R&D for Profit programme is on top of around $700 million that the Coalition Government already invests in rural R&D each year.

Fast facts

  • The Rural R&D for Profit programme funds projects that address the government's rural RD&E priorities: advanced technology, biosecurity, managing natural resources, as well as promoting industry and on-farm adoption of R&D.
  • The first two rounds of the Rural R&D for Profit programme delivered grant funding of almost $79 million for 29 projects, matched by more than $109 million in cash and in-kind contributions from successful grantees and their partners.
  • ABARES research demonstrates that after controlling for climate, there has been strong productivity growth on cropping farms over the last decade, with annual growth of 1.5 per cent per year since 2006-07.