12 May 2015
Media Release - #2015042, 2015

Helping Australian farmers prepare for and manage drought

Joint media release
with the Hon Barnaby Joyce
Minister for Agriculture

The 2015 Budget is part of the Commonwealth Government’s plan to build a strong, safe and prosperous future for all Australians.

The Government is delivering support to farmers, farm businesses and rural communities in drought-affected areas across Australia but is also facilitating investment in longer term preparedness measures.

The Government will provide $70 million to assist primary producers to claim accelerated depreciation for water facilities, fodder storage and fencing from 1 July 2016.

Primary producers will be able to claim more favourable accelerated depreciation for water facilities and fodder storage assets, allowing farmers to more effectively store and use water and fodder to better manage periods of drought.

New fencing will also be able to be depreciated in the first year, meaning more money in farmers’ pockets sooner.

Drought preparedness was a key priority identified as part of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper process and these accelerated depreciation measures will create an incentive for farmers to undertake on-farm preparedness activities and increase productivity.

The depreciation measures announced today are in addition to the $333 million drought support package recently announced by the Prime Minister.

The 2015 Budget delivers more than $400 million in targeted support for farmers and communities impacted by drought:

  • $35 million for shovel-ready, local infrastructure and employment projects. Funding will be targeted at projects that offer the greatest potential to stimulate local spending, use local resources and provide lasting benefit to the community.
  • $25.8 million for programmes to manage pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas. This measure will provide work for rural contractors while assisting landowners to deal with the impact of feral animals on livestock and pasture.
  • $20 million to expand existing social and community support programmes. This additional funding will improve access to mental health support and counselling services for drought-affected families and communities.
  • $1.8 million to fund additional rural financial counsellors in drought-affected areas.
  • $250 million in 2015–16 to continue access to existing drought specific concessional loans schemes.
  • $70 million to enable primary producers to claim more favourable accelerated depreciation for water facilities, fodder assets and fencing, allowing farmers to more effectively store and use water and fodder to better manage periods of drought and fully deduct the cost of fencing in the year it is purchased.

These measures also build upon existing Commonwealth support to farmers experiencing hardship, such the Farm Household Allowance, which is currently flowing to over 4,800 farmers or their partners.

Over the past two years the Commonwealth has provided around $190 million to support drought-stricken farmers and approved $270 million in concessional loans to 531 farm businesses.

The Government committed to reviewing the adequacy of drought preparedness and in-event drought measures prior to the last election and we are delivering on this. Further measures to support farmers who are preparing themselves for the damaging effects of drought will be announced in the forthcoming Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Supporting farmers in the hard times is essential to the success of the agricultural sector and the nation’s economy at large.

Helping farmers through times of drought is in our national interest. Despite unprecedented drought conditions in some parts of the country and a third failed wet season in large parts of the north, Australia’s agriculture sector will contribute an estimated $52 billion to the economy this financial year.

The government recognises agriculture as a key pillar of the economy, and understands the importance of supporting farmers manage through droughts.

For information on the new drought support measures go to the Department of Agriculture website.