AgForce ‘cautiously optimistic’ about drought review – but collaboration essential

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AgForce ‘cautiously optimistic’ about drought review – but collaboration essential
Friday, 28 Jun 2019

AgForce is “cautiously optimistic” about the State Government’s proposed approach to better drought management policy announced today by Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner.

CEO Michael Guerin said drought was a natural and inevitable feature of farming in Queensland, so it was critical that the Government took a strategic approach to supporting producers in order to maintain a strong, sustainable agriculture industry.

“Overall, the program announced today is in line with AgForce’s ‘business cycle’ approach, which focuses on assisting producers to prepare for drought, as well as surviving it,” Mr Guerin said.

“However, I believe producers will be anxious about the proposal to abolish freight subsidies for fodder and water.

“While we are reassured that they will remain in place for the duration of the current drought – including any further declarations made before June 2020 – we need to ensure effective assistance for producers with the additional costs of drought.

“We will use the intervening period to engage with AgForce members and the wider industry to determine what this should look like, and seek to ensure this solution is incorporated into the final program.

“This should not be about cost-cutting but about getting better outcomes from a similar or greater investment.

“While the need to ensure animal welfare and sustainably manage the natural resource quite rightly underpins drought support, there is also an urgent need for grain growers to have more support.

“We welcome the introduction of more science into drought declarations, but insist that ‘local knowledge’ must continue to be a feature of these assessments.”

While details are yet to be worked out, AgForce acknowledged the inclusion of:
  • support for practical drought management plans
  • support for mental wellbeing and community resilience programs
  • non-breeding livestock under the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate
  • greater support towards education costs, and
  • regulatory changes to allow producers to more easily use mulga for drought feeding.
Mr Guerin said one of the most pleasing aspects of the proposed program was the Government’s commitment to engaging with industry in refining and implementing it.

“Who knows? This may be the dawn of a bright new day,” he said.

“We have seen too many recent examples of botched legislation developed in isolation of industry, and will be ardent in ensuring Minister Furner honours his commitment to including industry in finalising the program.”

ends

Media Contact: David Vogler 0418 733 102

AgForce ‘cautiously optimistic’ about drought review – but collaboration essential

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