Drought is one of the most significant risks faced by regional communities and is a regular feature of the Australian agricultural landscape. There is a need for an enduring, coordinated and effective national drought policy in Australia.
GrainGrowers' Drought Policy
GrainGrowers' Drought Policy Principles
- Growers should have access to risk management tools that strengthen the social, environmental and financial resilience of farm business and help support the communities they operate in.
- Governments play a role in ensuring the environment in which farming businesses operate is open with few barriers that impede upon a farming enterprises ability to adopt and implement preparedness and resilience measures.
- Government should provide a basic safety net for farmers.
- Government support for farmers should not foster market distortions or promote poor business operating practices. GrainGrowers does not support transaction-based subsidies.
- Government support should recognise that new entrants play a critical role in ensuring a strong, vibrant and enduring agriculture sector and that newer entrants often face greater impediments in implementing preparedness and resilience measures compared to established businesses.
GrainGrowers' Drought Asks
1. Growers in severe drought should be provided with an option to defer local government rates for a defined period to alleviate the pressure felt on them and their family.
2. Farmers in severe drought should be provided with an option to receive temporary support to help cover the payroll expenses of on-farm employees. This ensures that farmers can retain employees and helps prevent a decline in regional populations and communities.
3. Farm businesses should be supported in developing and maintaining a business plan that considers all risks including drought.
4. Growers and their staff are supported in accessing ongoing training and development that (a) improve the enterprises’ sustainability, preparedness and resilience to risks such as drought; and (b) supports the transition to post-farming employment should an enterprise be no longer viable.
5. The Commonwealth Government should implement all recommendations outlined in the Farm Household Allowance Review 2019 (other than that of Recommendation 1) by 31 December 2020.
6. Governments should invest in supporting succession planning through the provision of funds for farmers to access professional services and advice and by providing stamp duty and capital gains tax exemptions during drought.
7. Farmers must have access to affordable and accessible finance options through the Regional Investment Corporation that supports their viability, sustainability and resilience.
8. Government assist with the establishment of a viable and sustainable crop income protection market by 2024 so that farmers can access tools to manage their own risks.
9. Farm Management Deposits should be made available to all farming business structures (i.e. companies and trusts) to improve uptake and effectiveness as a risk management tool.
10. The Commonwealth Government Future Drought Fund builds the resilience of all famers irrespective of size or commodity type.
Amelia Shaw - Policy Manager, Rural Affairs