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Budget 2011: Helping farmers cope with drought

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Helping farmers cope with drought 10 May 2011 DAFF11/126L

The Gillard Government will spend $44.1 million to extend and expand its pilot of drought reform measures in Western Australia to help farmers cope with drought conditions.

The drought pilot, which is a joint initiative between the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments, tests programs and assistance measures designed to help farmers better manage risks of drought and prepare for future challenges.

The pilot will be extended for an extra year and trialled over an expanded area that includes more than twice the number of farm businesses.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said the WA pilot is a critical step towards national drought reform.

“The pilot region will be expanded from 1 July 2011 to the southwest of the state to cover approximately 96 per cent of Western Australian farmers or more than 13,000 farm businesses,” he said.

“This is more than double the number of current participants in the pilot, which covers approximately 40 per cent of all Western Australian farmers or about 6,000 farm businesses.

“The Gillard Government is committed to supporting our farmers, their families and regional communities to cope with the long-term effects of drought.

“Today’s announcement means that support will continue for farmers and their families while a review of the pilot is finalised. In my discussions with WA producers, I have been impressed by how well the pilot has been received.

“Managing variability in climate, including access to water, will continue to be a vital part of the way in which agricultural production in Australia evolves over the next decade,” Minister Ludwig said.

Minister Ludwig has established a review panel that will assess the pilot. The panel is chaired by the Australian Farm Institute’s Mick Keogh and includes the 2010 Australian Rural Woman of the Year Sue Middleton and businessman Bob Granger as members.

The review panel will report its findings by 30 September 2011.