Drought Resilience Funding Plan tabled at Parliament while Farm Household Allowance changes are also made

David Littleproud on one of his drought tours.
David Littleproud on one of his drought tours.

The Drought Resilience Funding Plan has been tabled in Parliament outlining how the proceeds of the Future Drought Fund can be spent.

Minister for Drought, David Littleproud, says the plan directs money to be used in ways that build drought resilience and preparedness while boosting farm production and profits.

"This will make sure the Future Drought Fund gets the best bang for buck," Minister Littleproud said. "The plan lays out the principles for the projects we'll back. It also sets out how we should strengthen long-term drought resilience in rural communities. This reflects the advice of the independent Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee after an extensive public consultation," he said.

Chair of the Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee, Brent Finlay, says the Plan is a framework for considering appropriate drought resilience projects and activities.

"During our six weeks on the road the committee heard from many farmers, regional natural resource managers, researchers, industry groups, banks and charities at many locations around the country," Mr Finlay said. "Each region had their own stories to share about how they thought the Drought Resilience Funding Plan could guide the development of programs that would lift agricultural productivity and build drought resilience," he said.

The Future Drought Fund began at $3.9 billion with earnings to be reinvested until the balance reaches $5 billion. It will provide $100 million every year from July 2020 for new investment in drought resilience and preparedness.

Interested parties can find out more and register their interest in the Future Drought Fund here: https://haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/future-drought-fund

Meanwhile, Minister Littleproud says more red tape will be slashed for Farm Household Allowance applications with new legislation introduced into Parliament.

He said the government was committed to making sure farmers could access the allowance when they need it.

"I don't want farmers jumping through hoops when it's not needed," he said. "We've taken several recommendations from a farmer-led panel to make the FHA applications more straightforward. These changes are another step in simplifying the Farm Household Allowance," he said.

"Business income reconciliation will no longer be necessary in the new financial year. This will prevent putting farming families in debt if they receive unexpected income.

"Case managers will also be able to extend the time farmers have to complete farm financial assessments so they don't miss out on support in complex cases.

"These changes build on improvements we've made over the past 12 months, such as letting couples apply for the FHA in a single online application - telling their story once.

"Farmers making a loss can also offset their off-farm income up to $100,000 per couple.

"We've made FHA available for four out of 10 years, instead of a three-year lifetime limit.

"We've also made Relief Payments for people finishing their first four years of FHA in recognition of the extended drought and unprecedented natural events."

Since 2014 the FHA has paid $398 million to more than 13,300 individuals. $2 million per week is invested in rural communities through the FHA.