National Drought Program Reform

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The Australian Government’s key contribution to National Drought Program Reform is the Farm Household Allowance to support farmers and their partners when they are in hardship. The allowance is now available.

Information about how to apply for the Farm Household Allowance is available at Department of Human Services or telephone 13 23 16.

Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform

The Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform was signed in 2013 by Australian, state and territory governments. Under the agreement, all governments are aiming to encourage farmers to better prepare for droughts and manage their business risks.

Detailed information on the new approach to drought programs can be found on Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform. The agreement outlines the key roles and responsibilities for each government in implementing the new approach. The agreement also includes a framework to guide decisions on the introduction of in-drought support.

More information about National Drought Program Reform is available at drought program reform – questions and answers.

Farm Household Allowance

The Australian Government’s main contribution to reform is the Farm Household Allowance which is now available.

The Farm Household Allowance provides assistance to farm families experiencing financial hardship, without the need for a drought or Exceptional Circumstances declaration. The allowance will provide eligible farmers and their partners with up to three years of fortnightly income support.

Farm Management Deposits

The Farm Management Deposits (FMD) Scheme assists primary producers to deal more effectively with fluctuations in cash flow. It is designed to increase the self-reliance of Australian primary producers by helping them manage their financial risk, meet their business costs in low-income years and facilitate increased financial self-reliance.

Enhancements have been made to the FMD Scheme. These are:

  • increasing the non-primary production income threshold for FMDs from $65 000 to $100 000
  • allowing consolidation of existing eligible FMD accounts.

Further information can be found on Farm Management Deposits.

Farm Business Training

Training is an important part of building farmers’ capacity to prepare for and manage risk. Improved business skills support the productivity, profitability and viability of farm businesses. Training can also encourage better farm risk management practices and more informed decision making.

Under the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform, the states and territories are responsible for encouraging the delivery and uptake of the national approach to farm business training. The farm business management skill set was developed by AgriFood Skills Australia in consultation with the Australian, state and territory governments. The farm business management skill set is included as part of the AHC10 Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package and provides a basis for nationally consistent training outcomes in farm business management.

The national farm business training skill set includes the following units of competency:

  • Develop and review a business plan
  • Monitor and review business performance
  • Support and review business structures and relationships
  • Manage risk.

The skill set is available on the Training.gov.au website.

Further information about where to access the farm business management skill set in your jurisdiction is available below.

New South Wales

Tocal College – New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Victoria

Contact the Department of Environment and Primary Industries 

Western Australia

Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia.

South Australia

Contact the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA on 08 8226 0001.

Australian Capital Territory

Contact the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate on 02 6205 8331.

Background

Successive reviews of drought policy and programs found that drought support based on the Exceptional Circumstances arrangements was inequitable and no longer appropriate. The Exceptional Circumstances arrangements ceased on 30 June 2014.

In 2008, a national review of drought policy was undertaken to inform decisions on how the government can better support farmers. The review included economic, climatic and social assessments. It found that drought conditions in Australia were likely to occur more often and be more severe. It also recommended that drought assistance programs be restructured to help farmers better plan and prepare for drought rather than waiting until farmers are in crisis before offering assistance.

In 2010, the Australian Government, in partnership with the Western Australian Government initiated a two-year pilot of drought reform measures in regions of Western Australia. This was in response to the national review of drought policy and tested a range of programs to inform the design of a new national approach. The pilot was reviewed in 2011 by an independent panel, which confirmed that a move to programs with a focus on risk management and preparedness was appropriate.

A summary of previous drought assistance arrangements and reviews can be found at History of Drought Policy and Programs.