Drought tour welcome as communities cry out for more help

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Drought tour welcome as communities cry out for more help
Tuesday, 5 Jun 2018

AgForce is calling for immediate, additional support for drought-affected communities doing it tough and an overhaul of national drought policy to deliver better long-term outcomes in the wake of the Prime Minister’s visit this week.

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley, who will meet with the Prime Minister and Federal Ministers on the Charleville leg of their visit, said more than half of Queensland was still drought-declared with some regions now in their sixth year of drought.

“The prolonged and severe nature of the drought has taken an enormous financial, emotional and environmental toll on many regional Queensland communities,” he said.

“Primary producers need both immediate support to help them through this tough time and long-term policy certainty to promote better planning and risk management.

“The ongoing nature of this drought has overwhelmed even the best efforts of producers to prepare and while current government assistance measures are very welcome, they are really only designed for droughts that last two to three years.

“AgForce believes Australia needs an enduring drought policy and have proposed an ‘Agricultural Business Cycle’ approach to help move governments from mainly only responding in crisis and to empower producers to continually better manage the impacts of climate risks across their business.”

Mr Maudsley said AgForce had established the Queensland Emergency Drought Taskforce with 24 western Queensland Mayors and had recently written to federal and state politicians to outline a series of priorities to provide immediate relief to affected communities.

“We would urge the Federal Government to invest in capital works and infrastructure projects that could both boost regional communities now and build them up for the future,” he said.

“A pipeline of projects such as roads, bridges, stock routes, on-farm water investments and cluster fencing would help generate economic activity in small towns and keep people employed locally.

“In addition, AgForce is asking the Federal Government to review and extend the Farm Household Allowance income support measure, including further streamlining the application process and excluding essential farm assets from asset tests.

“AgForce welcomes the Prime Minister’s interest in this important issue and we look forward to this week’s listening tour being backed up by commitments to additional assistance and a policy revamp that can provide real support for drought-affected communities, both in the short and long term.”

Media Contacts: Scott Whitby 0418 733 102, Sarah Henderson 0427 626 853

Drought tour welcome as communities cry out for more help

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