Farmer wants a lifeline: Budget to include $500m drought relief


Farmers will soon be able to access more support to help prepare for drought.

May 07, 2024, updated May 07, 2024
Bureau says El Nino conditions on the way but still stops short of declaring it. (AAP Image/David Mariuz) NO ARCHIVING

Bureau says El Nino conditions on the way but still stops short of declaring it. (AAP Image/David Mariuz) NO ARCHIVING


An extra $519.1 million will go into the Commonwealth’s future drought fund to help regional communities ready for dry times as part of next week’s federal budget.

The fund aims to provide tools for farmers to manage drought on their properties as well as bolster capacity to withstand climate change.

As part of the boost, $235 million will go towards drought resilience programs, while $137.4 million will be channelled into measures to assist producers with business planning and financial literacy.

Trials for new solutions to drought mitigation will also be funded with a further $120.3 million.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the top up to the fund would allow communities to better deal with hardship.

“It’s vital that we support Australian farmers and producers to be prepared for more severe weather impacts,” he said.

“By doing the work now our rural and regional communities are not just reacting to events as they unfold, but will have considered plans to make them more resilient to climate change.”

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The future drought fund was set up in 2019 to allow the federal government to provide grants to programs focused on drought resilience.

The money in the budget comes after a Productivity Commission review into the fund, which recommended a number of programs financed by it be improved.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said it was critical for the farming sector to be sustainable.

“We’re helping farmers across the country develop business plans to manage diversification in a changing climate, we’re helping regional communities manage drought and other climate risks and helping individuals get leadership training and mentoring,” he said.

“This not only empowers farmers and communities but makes them more self-reliant when drought hits.”

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