Queensland’s drought resilience
Queensland’s variability in rainfall is among the highest experienced in the world. This rainfall variability leaves the State vulnerable to extended dry periods, resulting in drought, which can sometimes persist for several years. These ongoing dry conditions pose significant challenges for agriculture and water security.
The Queensland Government recognises the importance of encouraging agricultural businesses to better manage the economic and environmental impacts of climate variability. Queensland has the largest area of agricultural land of any Australian state and the highest proportion of land area in Australia dedicated to agriculture. About 30,500 businesses carry out agricultural activity in Queensland. Agricultural industries contribute more than $17 billion to the State’s economy each year and provide employment for more than 50,000 people.
When agricultural businesses are better prepared for, and more resilient to climate risks, such as drought, the long-term productivity of the sector is assured and the Queensland economy, as a whole, benefits.
The Queensland Government’s new climate adaptation program is focusing on helping agricultural businesses better manage climate variability. The program aims to improve seasonal forecasting and provide tools and systems that will support agricultural businesses in their decision-making. Improving the accuracy of seasonal climate forecasts by 10-15%, and increasing the lead time of reliable forecasts, will give agricultural businesses more confidence in forecasts and significantly increase their capacity to plan for, and manage, drought. The program also aims to help agricultural businesses adapt to future climate scenarios by providing practical adaptation strategies.
Supporting agricultural businesses to be more self-reliant in managing drought is also a key focus of Australia’s National Drought Policy reform. Australian, State and Territory governments are signatories to the National Drought Policy which aims to encourage agricultural businesses to adopt self–reliant approaches to managing their business risks, as well as adapt to and prepare for, the impacts of drought.
The effects of drought are not limited to the impact on the land and businesses that work the land; rather, drought also has an impact on the social fabric of a community and on the wellbeing of individuals and families. For this reason, the Queensland Government has a whole-of-government drought policy that provides various types of assistance targeted at affected individuals, families, businesses and communities. Queensland’s current drought policy is made up of two assistance packages with a combined funding of $77.9 million over the next five years.
The Drought Assistance Package is a whole-of-government response that is focused on easing the economic and emotional burden that drought places on agricultural businesses and communities, by providing rebates and subsidies to businesses and funding wellbeing services to support families and communities.
One of the major components of the Drought Assistance Package is funding for the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme. The scheme assists primary producers whose properties are drought declared to manage the welfare of their livestock during drought, and to restore their herds and flocks after drought. The scheme provides subsidies on the transport costs of providing feed and drinking water for livestock and provides a subsidy on the transport of livestock that are returning to their home property when the drought is over. The scheme also provides a rebate on the costs of purchasing and installing water infrastructure like tanks and troughs, for animal welfare purposes, so that livestock have access to a permanent water source.
Queensland’s variable climate will continue to pose significant risks for the State’s agriculture industry. The focus for the Queensland Government is to help producers better manage drought conditions by encouraging resilience, self-reliance and preparedness.
Don’t miss the the opportunity to speak to Queensland Government water specialists at Stand #201 in the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition (09-14 October).
Check out the full list of activities
For further information on the Queensland Government’s drought assistance programs visit www.daf.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.