New Federal Government drought relief measures and continued community support are a boost for Queensland farmers and regional towns that have been doing it tough for a long time, AgForce said today.
AgForce Queensland CEO Michael Guerin welcomed the Federal Government's announcement of additional measures to support drought-affected communities and build resilience to better deal with current and future events.
"Parts of western and southern Queensland have been in drought for more than six years, which has overwhelmed even the best efforts of many producers to prepare," he said.
"We welcome the $22 million for Queensland councils to spend on projects in drought-stricken areas, and additional funding for the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative - a fantastic water saving program that delivers wins for the environment, primary producers and rural economies.
"The funding for regional water infrastructure and changes to tax settings to encourage producers to invest in fodder storage will help build further resilience and productivity at both the regional and on-farm levels.
"AgForce had been calling for measures such as these and had also sought a simplification and faster processing of applications for assistance so that commitment from the Federal Government should deliver positive results.
"With these new announcements from the Federal Government, it's now vital the Queensland Government also steps up, particularly around water infrastructure for agricultural development.
"AgForce is urging the Queensland Government to invest in new regional capital works projects, increase education assistance for children from remote areas, and provide leasehold land rent and council rates relief.
"The Queensland Government also needs to rethink its new vegetation management laws that are making it more costly and complex for farmers to feed their animals during drought."
Mr Guerin thanked all Australians for their continued support of drought-affected farmers through donations to charities and the various appeals that have been established, including the Farm Aid Telethon being held in Warwick and Dubbo today.
"The drought has now been going on for more than six years in parts of Queensland, and it's heartening to see Australians rally around our rural communities during these tough times," he said.
"While the lack of rain is taking its toll in many areas, farmers are strong and resilient, and agriculture has a bright future as Australia's fastest growing industry with Queensland the most valuable agricultural state."
Mr Guerin said AgForce had developed an 'Agricultural Business Cycle' approach to drought policy, which aims to move from the current reactive, crisis-driven response from government to empowering producers to better manage climate risk.
"It's about ensuring producers have ownership of drought preparedness and are rewarded for proactive management and efforts to improve their resilience. It's also about ensuring producers can access the type of assistance they need when they need it to manage drought," he said.
"Drought has such a big impact on Australian agriculture and extended dry periods are a recurring feature, so we need governments at all levels and politicians on all sides to come together with industry to work on a sustainable approach to managing this issue now and into the future."