There may not be rain on the horizon for drought-stricken communities, but they can expect funding as soon as 2020.
Earlier this week, the new $5 billion Future Drought Fund was passed with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and is now on track to pass its final hurdle in the Senate.
The Fund aims to help build drought resilience and preparedness by investing $100 million each year starting 1 July 2020.
The Future Drought Fund Bill was first introduced to Parliament in November last year off the back of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Drought Summit in October 2018. However, the Fund was never debated in the Senate.
The National Farmers’ Federation’s President Fiona Simson said drought was a part of Australia’s landscape and managing drought was a feature of Australian agriculture.
“With drought forecast to become more frequent and severe as a result of climate change – focussing on preparedness and resilience is critical.
“On Monday night agriculture and the many regional communities that depend on a strong farming sector were prioritised by the Australian Parliament,” she said.
How the Fund works
The process includes the Future Drought Fund Special Account, which will contain $3.9 billion once the Bill is passed. With investments it will reach a value of $5 billion.
The Agriculture Future Drought Resilience Special Account will be established where $100 million will be taken from the aforementioned account (the funds will be replenished by consistent investments) and be invested in drought preparedness and resilience in drought-stricken communities.
The first $100 million investments will be made on 1 July 2020 and the second in 2021.
The Drought Minister David Littleproud will be given the task of designing a Drought Resilience Funding Plan that will guide the funding decisions.
The legislation also includes a requirement to establish a Consultative Committee that includes strong farmer representation to direct the application of the Fund’s investment.
“Drought impacts every farmer and every community differently. And we are constantly re-examining and learning new ways to tackle drought.
“The Future Drought Fund guarantees that building drought resilience remains a priority while not locking in how best to achieve that resilience,” Ms Simson said.