​Media Release

Littleproud welcomes NFF vision; comments on drought policy

29 August 2018

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has welcomed a speech at the National Press Club by National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson.

The speech gave voice to Australia's farm community and reinforced the facts around some aspects of public discussion, including the ridiculous myth pushed by some that Australia would need to reduce its sheep and cattle herds to meet its Paris climate change targets.

The speech focused on the NFF's vision to grow the agriculture industry to $100 billion in gross production by 2030 – a vision Minister Littleproud has been a strong backer of.

Ms Simson also lamented mainstream and capital city media focus on the negative aspects of agriculture and rural life given the positive aspects never seem to get a run. This has real implications as we try to encourage the next generation of farmers into what is an exciting industry full of huge opportunity in fantastic regional communities.

It's necessary to give further context to some discussion around Australia's drought policy especially given recent media reporting and social media discussion.

"Australia has had a drought policy which reaches across all governments since 1992," Minister Littleproud said.

"The objectives of the 1992 National Drought Policy were to:

  • encourage primary producers and other sections of rural Australia to adopt self-reliant approaches to managing for climate variability
  • facilitate the maintenance and protection of Australia's agricultural and environmental resources base during periods of climatic stress
  • facilitate the early recovery of agricultural and rural industries, consistent with long-term sustainable levels.

"The InterGovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform, which underpins drought preparedness and assistance by all governments, superseded the 1992 National Drought Policy in 2013 and was extended earlier this year by the Agriculture Ministers Council."

The IGA on National Drought Program Reform was also reviewed last year. The review's first finding is:

The principles of the IGA provide for broad consistency. In a formal way, the IGA has captured a consistent, national policy vision for drought reform. Preparedness and risk management remain fundamental features of drought and rural assistance policy.

"Australia has a good, solid drought policy framework to work from and we have had for a long time," Minister Littleproud said.

"This doesn't mean governments of both sides haven't made mistakes along the way. 

"Drought policy is always evolving. At my recent Drought Roundtable in Canberra, I endorsed the NFF's suggested drought policy framework as a foundation from which to move forward as drought policy continues to evolve.

"We can't 'set and forget' drought policy - we have to be agile. Things change and we have to adapt. We've been doing that and new PM Scott Morrison has already shown good form on this.

"Regarding comments criticising farm drought payments yesterday, as Ms Simson pointed out, contentious policies such as interest rate subsidies disappeared years ago. Any criticism that the current Farm Household Allowance should be stopped is ridiculous.

"Farm Household Allowance puts tucker on the table for farm families struggling to make ends meet and I absolutely back it."