DROUGHT RELIEF: $5 billion in funding is going towards creating a drought resilient future. (Picture: File)
DROUGHT RELIEF: $5 billion in funding is going towards creating a drought resilient future. (Picture: File)

Billions in funding coming to help regional farmers

AS OF today, the federal government will roll out the Future Drought Funds Program, which will invest $5 billion into creating a dough reliant future.

The program will make $100 million a year available to help farmers and communities better prepare for drought.

Minister Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said this long-term, sustainable investment will help our farmers and communities become more prepared for, and resilient to, the impacts of drought.

"Drought is an enduring feature of the Australian landscape. It has economic, environmental and social impacts on our farmers, communities and landscape," Minister Littleproud said.

"I'm excited to announce the Future Drought Fund's programs are starting to roll out from July 2020.

"These programs will give farmers and communities the tools they need to prepare for, manage and sustain their livelihoods during droughts."

The programs have been developed based on expert advice from the independent Consultative Committee, led by Mr Brent Finlay, a fourth generation farmer, as well as valuable input from communities and industry during last year's national public consultation tour on the Drought Resilience Funding Plan.

Minister Littleproud said the programs will help farmers to build resilience and prepare for future droughts.

"We are funding farm business planning, greater access to information for

decision-making, adoption of research and technologies, and building the drought resilience of natural resources such as soil and vegetation in agricultural landscapes," Minister Littleproud said.

"Communities will also benefit through improved regional planning, strengthening networks, leadership and community capabilities and small-scale infrastructure projects.

"This is the first suite of programs to be delivered under this initiative initially for one year. "We will continue to monitor and adapt programs to make sure they are building resilience and delivering for farmers and the community."

The eight programs, totalling $89.5 million, are:

•The $20m Farm Business Resilience program will provide farm businesses with training to strengthen their strategic business management skills and develop a farm business plan to build risk management capacity and drought resilience.

•The $10m Climate Services for Agriculture program will fund the development and delivery of interactive digital 'climate information services' for the agriculture sector to assist farmers to make real-time decisions.

•The $3m Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool will provide an online self-assessment tool for farmers to self-identify drought risks based on a range of social, economic and environmental indicators, and take action to build the drought resilience of their farm business.

•The $20.3m Drought Resilience Research and Adoption program will establish two regionally located Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs, and Innovation Grants will become available to research organisations, private sector, industry, not-for-profit organisations and community groups.

•The $15m Natural Resource Management (NRM) Drought Resilience program will fund regional NRM bodies to undertake projects to build drought resilience of natural resources on agricultural landscapes, and there will also be grants available to organisations, farmer groups and individuals to undertake NRM projects to build the drought resilience of natural resources on small scales.

•The $3.75m Networks for Building Drought Resilience program will support community-driven projects that enhance drought resilience and strengthen networks, including small-scale infrastructure projects to make community facilities drought resilient.

•The $7.45m Drought Resilience Leaders program will develop leadership capability in communities and include a mentoring component to foster uptake of innovative practices to build drought resilience of farmers and their businesses.

•The $10m Regional Drought Resilience Planning will provide funding to consortia of local councils or equivalent entities to develop Regional Drought Resilience Plans for agriculture and allied industries.