body bg


Government Drought Support

  • Year: 2009
  • Author: Productivity Commission
  • Publisher: Productivity Commission
  • Published Location: Melbourne, Vic
  • ISBN: 9781740372756
  • Country: Australia

Key points

• Many Australian farmers and rural communities have been experiencing hardship from the latest severe and prolonged drought. While this is not new to dryland farming, 'irrigation drought' is uncharted territory.

• Australia has always had a variable climate, with drought being a recurring feature. Looking to the future, experts predict higher temperatures and, for some regions, more frequent periods of exceptionally low rainfall.

• Most farmers are sufficiently self-reliant to manage climate variability.

– In 2007-08, 23 per cent of Australia's 143 000 farms received drought assistance, totalling over $1 billion, with some on income support continuously since 2002.

– In drought declared areas, most farmers manage without assistance. From 2002-03 to 2007-08, on average, about 70 per cent of dairy and broadacre farms in drought areas received no drought assistance.

• The National Drought Policy's (NDP) Exceptional Circumstance (EC) declarations and related drought assistance programs do not help farmers improve their self-reliance, preparedness and climate change management.

– EC interest rate subsidies and state-based transactions subsidies are ineffective, can perversely encourage poor management practices and should be terminated.

– EC household relief payments are limited to those in drought-declared areas, ignoring hardship elsewhere or for other reasons. They should be replaced.

– The EC declaration process is inequitable and unnecessary. It should not be extended to new areas. Current declarations should lapse as soon as practicable.

• Governments need to commit to a long term reform path that recognises that the primary responsibility for managing risks, including from climate variability and change, rests with farmers. To this end:

– research, development, extension, professional advice and training to improve farmers' business management skills and build self-reliance warrant significant government funding where they deliver a demonstrable community benefit.

– Farm Management Deposits, notwithstanding their use for tax management, have encouraged farmers to save and to be more self-reliant, and should be retained.

– policies relating to water, natural resource management and climate change, which all impact on farm businesses and local communities, are often at cross-purposes and need to be better coordinated and integrated.

– all farm households in hardship — regardless of cause or location — should have access to an income support scheme that is designed for farming circumstances.

• Similar recommendations from the previous reviews of the NDP have not been adopted. To ensure that this new policy direction is credible and enduring:

– the NDP should be replaced with extended objectives for Australia's Farming Future.

– an intergovernmental agreement with independent monitoring and financial incentives for complying with agreed commitments should be established.

Related Items

Growing rice on the Murrumbidgee River: cultures, politics, and practices of food production and water use, 1900 to 2012

Within the context of contemporary concerns about ecological degradation and debates about water...

Broadband Adoption by Agriculture and Local Government Councils - Australia and the USA

The growing use of the Internet is providing rural, regional and remote areas with new...

Alcohol Consumption, Obesity, and Psychological Distress in Farming Communities-An Australian Study

Alcohol consumption patterns nationally and internationally have been identified as elevated in...

Share this with your friends

Footer Logo

Contact Us

Level 2, 53 Blackall Street
Barton ACT 2600
Telephone: 02 6260 3733
or email us