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El Niño on the horizon, drought reform on today’s agenda

14 August 2012

With the threat of a return to dry El Niño conditions currently being predicted for the eastern half of Australia, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and its members have today continued to push for drought policy reform.

A meeting between the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon. Joe Ludwig, his Department, the NFF and NFF members including NSW Farmers, AgForce and the Victorian Farmers Federation has been held in Canberra today, followed by a meeting with the National Rural Advisory Council, to work through the proposed drought reform measures.

“Australia is currently drought-free for the first time in a decade, yet as all farmers know, the next drought it a case of when, not if,” NFF President Jock Laurie said today.

“Ensuring a suitable drought policy is in place needs to be a key priority for farmers, for the NFF and for the Government.

“We believe an effective drought policy must focus on both preparing farmers for the next drought during the good seasons, while also acknowledging that there may be periods of drought in the future that will require more than an ad-hoc policy response.

“The Government’s drought policy must find the balance between allowing farmers to build self-reliance through their own risk management and preparedness, and ensuring that appropriate assistance is available to farmers in the case of a severe or prolonged drought.

“Changing weather conditions and seasonal variability are certainly part and parcel of farming, yet in the grip of severe drought, even the most efficient farmers cannot be expected to simply cope.

“The NFF has long been the driving force behind development of a fairer, more equitable policy to support farmers in drought conditions.

“Today’s meeting was another step towards this goal and the NFF, through the NFF Drought Working Group, will continue to work with the Government on the development of this policy,” Mr Laurie said.

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