Key reforms expand drought assistance to more farmers
Published Wednesday, 23 March, 2022 at 12:20 PM
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner
New drought assistance programs that focus on fostering greater preparedness and business resilience for a broader range of eligible Queensland primary producers are now open for applications.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner, said the new programs represented the most significant reforms to drought assistance in a generation.
“We are changing how drought assistance is offered by focussing more on preparedness activities to help producers better manage the drought cycle, rather than waiting for a crisis,” Mr Furner said.
“In a major shift, we’re expanding drought program eligibility to primary producers across all agricultural industries and removing the requirement to be in a drought-declared region in order to access the new preparedness assistance.
“The support available includes Drought Preparedness Grants up to $50,000 and a suite of new drought preparedness, assistance and recovery loans up to $250,000.”
Mr Furner said the reforms fulfilled a major election commitment to update drought support for Queensland’s innovative, creative and dedicated producers of the 21st Century.
“Agriculture is an essential industry in Queensland and a vital part of our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan, so we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our producers, their businesses and communities,” he said.
“The reforms follow a comprehensive review of drought assistance by former AgForce CEO Charles Burke and former Queensland Farmers Federation CEO Ruth Wade.
“The Queensland Government’s drought assistance grants and loans will complement drought resilience planning programs jointly funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and the Queensland Government.
“As promised, producers in drought-declared areas currently accessing existing assistance programs can continue to receive that assistance for as long as the area remains drought-declared.
“They will have the option of staying on that assistance or transitioning to the new programs while they are still drought-declared.”
Producers can access the new Drought Preparedness Grants and loans provided they have an approved Farm Business Resilience Plan or similar that outlines actions to improve their drought preparedness. Producers with plans have already begun to access these Grants.
“The Drought Preparedness Grants provides eligible producers up to 25 per cent to a maximum of $50,000 to implement drought resilience infrastructure identified in their Farm Business Resilience Plan,” Mr Furner said.
“To help prepare for and recover from drought, Drought Ready and Recovery Loans of up to $250,000 at a concessional interest rate are now also available, if needed, to complement the Drought Preparedness Grant.
“If a producer is drought impacted in the future, the Queensland Government will provide interest free Emergency Drought Assistance Loans of up to $50,000 to help with drought related expenses, and if more is required, Drought Carry-on Finance Loans of up to $250,000 at a concessional interest rate.”
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is working with industry organisations and other stakeholders to provide information and assistance to producers in a series of information sessions across Queensland.
For more details on the new Queensland drought assistance and the information sessions, visit daf.qld.gov.au/drought or phone 13 25 23.
Media contact: Ron Goodman 0427 781 920