A small step in the long drought pathway

The NSW Farmers’ Association welcomes today’s decision by COAG to sign a new Inter-Governmental Agreement on Drought.
President of NSW Farmers James Jackson said the framework, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States and Territories, provides some clarity about the priorities for funding and program development but it is not a National Drought Strategy.
“Under the new Agreement the Commonwealth’s commitment to ongoing taxation concessions, Farm Management Deposits and concessional loans is valued, as is the joint commitment to developing, designing and implementing further preparedness, response and recovery programs into the future. However, this is a process for delivery and not necessarily a strategy for change.
“The potential benefits for Australian agriculture will be more flexible support, tailored to the needs of the farming business to aid farmers prepare, respond and recover from drought.
“It is pleasing to see the inclusion of evaluation in the Agreement. This is of critical importance to our members, but it doesn’t go far enough. Too often issues of drought impact rely on anecdote and emotion. NSW Farmers calls on all levels of government to ensure there is public reporting of the benefits and value of the initiatives for the farming sector, and critically analysing and reporting changes from an agreed benchmark of base-line data," Mr Jackson said.
Farmers, like any business, identify, assess and manage risk, including the risks of variable climate.
“We know all too well that weather forecasting is an important part of farming decisions. We also know that across Australia’s vast land mass there are real challenges in providing precise information to individual landholders.
“We welcome the commitment to improving weather, seasonal and climate forecasts in this Agreement, but this is bigger than the BoM. We strongly encourage consideration of a Drought Preparedness Centre of Excellence that would bring together existing data and scientific expertise, including research from independent and government programs,” Mr Jackson concluded. 

Date: Wednesday 12 December 2018
Media Contact:  Kathleen Curry | Public Affairs Director | 0429 011 690