With each step we take, we build on our goals to put food on farmers’ tables, to support the communities that rely on them and to make sure they are more resilient to deal with the next drought when it comes.
We need to remember drought doesn’t stop at the farmer’s gate. This is also about the mechanics who fix their tractors, the schools that educate their children and the local businesses that are so vital to our regional
That is why we have taken a whole-of-government approach to this drought and will continue to support them through every Commonwealth service that touches them and their community.
1. Immediate assistance for those affected
• Simplified and expanded access to the Farm House Allowance, which is extended to a 4 in 10 year payment. Households are eligible for around $105,000 over four years, as well as an additional payment of $13,000 for couples.
• $30 million for targeted mental health support.
• Built the National Drought Map, so all data and support services are in one place.
• Invested $25 million to help our farmers combat pests and weeds, $2.7 million to improve regional weather and climate guides, and $77.2 million for Bureau of Meteorology Radars to give farmers more information about
• $2 billion available in low-interest concessional loans through the Regional Investment Corporation to help farmers prepare for, manage through and recover from drought.
• $5 million for the Rural Financial Counselling Service so farmers have access to advice when it’s needed.
• We’ve made new and existing drought loans for farmers interest free and repayment free for two years, so they can purchase fodder, pay for freight and pay their farm contractors. Years three to five will be interest only payments and years six to ten will be interest and principal repayments. This could save farmers up to $303,384 in repayments over the first two years. The current scheme is the first five years are interest only payments, and then interest and principal payments for the remaining five years.
• Up to 100 gigalitres of water – the equivalent of 40,000 olympic swimming pools – that will be used to grow up fodder and pasture to secure supplies for the months ahead and push prices down for farmers.
2. Supporting jobs and investment in local communities
• $1 million for 122 councils and shires in drought affected areas to invest in projects that support jobs and give local businesses an income.
• Over $70 million in funding for major charities to assist rural Australian in desperate need, including $3,000 cash payments for families under the Drought Communities Support Initiative.
• $15 million in funding to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. This lets the Foundation provide small grants to community groups in need, to support community projects and events.
• An additional $1 million for each of the 122 drought-affected councils and shires if they need it.
• $1 million each for six new drought-affected councils and shires.
• $50 million discretionary fund to support projects in Local Government Areas impacted by the drought, with money to be allocated following a review.
• Targeted $200 million into a Building Better Regions Fund drought round to support new projects that deliver social and economic benefits to drought-affected communities.
• $138.9 million additional Roads to Recovery funding in calendar year 2020 for the 128 Local Government Areas eligible for the Drought Communities Programme Extension, so councils can create more jobs and build better, safer roads.
• A new program for small businesses dependent on agriculture, with loans worth up to $500,000 that can be used to pay staff, buy equipment and refinance. These loans have the same payment terms as the interest-free drought loans available to farmers.
• $10 million to support schools facing financial hardship as a result of drought conditions, including fee concessions for boarding students.
• $5 million from the Community Child Care Fund which will help assist early learning centres experiencing decreased demand and financial pressure, due to families from drought-affected areas being unable to pay for child care.
3. Building long-term resilience
A $5 billion Future Drought Fund to deliver $100 million each and every year, in the good times and the bad,
to make us more resilient to drought.
• $3.5 billion to build dams, weirs and pipelines – $1.48 billion has already been committed to 21 projects.
• $100 million through the National Water Grid Authority.
• The National Landcare Program, which supports the productive and sustainable use of Australia’s ecosystems.
• The $34 million Agriculture Stewardship Package, which incentivises the adoption of sustainable farm practises by farm businesses. This will improve the availability and quality of water and vegetation across the Australian landscape.