Programme 1.11: Drought programmes
Programme objectiveThis programme’s objective in 2014–15 was to:
- increase the resilience and capacity of farmers, farming families and communities to better prepare for and manage the impacts of drought, climate variability and reduced water availability.
We are responsible for implementing the government’s reforms to drought programmes. These reforms aim to improve the preparedness and self-reliance of farmers to deal with a changing climate and other drought-related challenges.
We are also responsible for implementing assistance programmes that support farm businesses, families and rural communities affected by drought.
The Drought Concessional Loans Scheme allocated $270 million to assist farm businesses across Australia to manage through, recover from, and prepare for, future droughts and to return to commercial viability in the long term.
In December 2014, the minister announced additional assistance for drought-affected farmers in New South Wales and Queensland through the $100 million Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Scheme. In Queensland, the scheme is also available to farm businesses directly affected by drought conditions and the 2011 suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia.
More information is available on the department's website.
|Key performance indicator||2014–15 target||Performance|
|Effective policies, programmes and regulations that contribute to enhanced productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability||Accurate and timely advice provided a||Met||–||–|
|Work with each state and territory to implement drought concessional loans||Eligible drought affected farm businesses access loan funds for debt restructuring, operating expenses and drought recovery activities a||Met||–||–|
|Underpinning research, advice, forecast, projects, products and data services meet stakeholder expectations, and are delivered within agreed timelines||85% b||Met||Met||Met|
a New performance indicator. b Client satisfaction as measured by an annual survey of ABARES clients.
Drought Concessional Loans Scheme
Applications for the Drought Concessional Loans Scheme opened in New South Wales and Queensland in June 2014. During 2014–15, we worked with state agencies to open applications in the Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.
The scheme provides loans of up to 50 per cent of eligible debt, up to a maximum of $1 million, for debt restructuring, operating expenses and drought recovery and preparedness activities. The loans offer farm businesses some financial breathing space, by requiring interest-only payments over the five-year loan term.
The Drought Concessional Loans Scheme closed for applications on 30 June 2015. By that date, 283 farm businesses had been approved for concessional loans worth $169.8 million. We are assessing applications received up to 30 June, and the final amount of loans provided during the year will be determined later in 2015.
In 2015–16, the scheme will reopen for applications in some jurisdictions.
Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Scheme
This new scheme recognises parts of Australia are experiencing unprecedented drought conditions and that it is beyond the ability of some otherwise viable farm businesses to manage the financial impacts. These loans will help farm businesses return to full production when the drought breaks.
The scheme provides loans at a concessional interest rate for planting and/or restocking drought recovery activities as seasonal conditions allow. Loans of up to 50 per cent of eligible debt to a maximum of $1 million are available for 10-year terms, with interest-only payments required for the first five years.
We worked with government and delivery agencies in New South Wales and Queensland to confirm administration arrangements for the scheme. We also worked with the Bureau of Meteorology to have the Australian Rainfall Deficiency Analyser available for the scheme. Applications for loans opened in Queensland in January 2015 and in New South Wales in March 2015.
The Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Scheme closed for applications on 30 June 2015. By that date, 17 farm businesses had been approved for concessional loans worth more than $6.5 million. We are assessing applications received up to 30 June, and the final amount of loans provided during the year will be determined later in 2015.In 2015–16, this scheme will also reopen for applications in a number of jurisdictions.
Supporting drought-affected communities
More than $15.5 million was made available in February 2014 for social and community support, which included funding for drought coordinators based in Armidale, Tamworth, Charleville, Longreach and Mount Isa. A rural social support working group with representation from the departments of Agriculture, Social Services, Human Services and Health oversaw the implementation of the measure and continued work to better coordinate social support services.