Program 1.11: Drought programs
- increase the resilience and capacity of farmers, farming families and communities to better prepare for and self manage the impacts of drought, climate variability and reduced water availability.
We were responsible for developing and implementing the Australian Government’s reforms to drought assistance. These reforms aimed to improve the preparedness and self-reliance of farmers dealing with a variable climate.
Key performance indicators
|Key performance indicator||2012–13 target||Performance|
|Eligible farmers and small businesses receive sufficient financial resources to meet immediate needs within timeframe specified by the Business Partnership Agreement||100% a||N/A||Met||–|
|Interim Income Support claims to be processed within 42 days in accordance with the Business Partnership Agreement with the Department of Human Services||80% b||N/A||N/A||Met|
|Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payments claims to be processed within 42 days in accordance with the Business Partnership Agreement with Centrelink||80% b||N/A||Met||Met|
|Effective understanding of stakeholder views on future programs to help producers prepare for and manage drought||Consult stakeholders a||Met||–||–|
|Scientific and economic research|
|Underpinning research, advice, forecasts, projects, products and data services are delivered on time, within budget and are of high quality||85% a||Met||–||–|
Delivering National Drought Program Reform
The Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform was signed in May 2013. The agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Australian, state and territory governments. It represents a major achievement and the culmination of more than five years’ work to confirm a new approach to drought programs.
The new package aimed to help producers prepare for, and manage the effects of drought and other challenges.
The central element of the new package, the Farm Household Allowance, was announced in the 2013–14 Federal Budget. The new allowance aims to support farmers and their partners when they are in hardship, regardless of the source and represents a significant microeconomic reform. It is due to commence in July 2014.
Other elements of the package included Farm Management Deposits and taxation measures, a national approach to farm business training, a collaborative approach to the provision of social support services and tools to inform farmer decision-making.
Supporting the National Rural Advisory Committee
During 2012–13, the National Rural Advisory Committee (NRAC) undertook assessments of agricultural insurance products, including multi-peril crop insurance and its feasibility in Australia, the effectiveness of the Farm Management Deposits scheme and the workforce planning capabilities of agricultural employers.
We provided NRAC with research, data and secretariat support. We have also begun implementing several recommendations from NRAC’s report on Farm Management Deposits as part of the Farm Finance initiative (see Program 1.12). This includes increasing the non-primary production income threshold for deposits and consolidating eligible accounts.
Managing drought programs
We managed finalisation of the pilot of drought reform measures in Western Australia, the Climate Change Adjustment Program and the Exceptional Circumstances Exit Grants Program. All of these programs expired in
2011–12, although payments under the Building Farm Businesses element of the Western Australian pilot will continue until 30 June 2014.
We also managed the wrap-up of the Exceptional Circumstances Interest Rate Subsidy. This involved the acquittal of the program to cover any residual payments made by the states, which were linked to the program’s processing, review and appeal arrangements. We worked with the states to conclude outstanding payments and to organise the refund of any remaining funds to the Australian Government.
National Drought Program Reform
A key challenge in confirming National Drought Program Reform was to ensure the views of our key stakeholders, including the state and territory governments, national and state farmer groups and Australian Government agencies, helped shape development of the final package of measures. We engaged these stakeholders frequently throughout 2012–13 to build consensus on the way forward.
While it was not possible to meet all requests, there is general acceptance that the final package represents a positive approach that is consistent with the outcomes of previous reviews.