HOW could the federal government best spend $100 million every year to make regional communities more resilient to drought?
That was the question put to locals in Tamworth, NSW, yesterday by the Future Drought Fund committee.
Committee chair and former president of the National Farmers Federation, Brent Finlay, said the fund's aim was to help farmers and communities become more prepared for the effects of drought.
"This is a unique opportunity - I've never seen anything like this," Mr Finlay said.
The federal government has invested $3.9 billion in to the Future Drought Fund, which is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2029.
Water was the common theme on everyone's lips. Warral farmer Keith Harris said without water, some of the region's communities would start to go backwards.
"Without a doubt, the number one issue across the board is water," Mr Harris said.
Walcha farmer Sonia O'Keefe said there had to be more social research in to what actually made some communities more drought resilient than others.
"Every rural community across Australia is very different and we have absolutely no research in to what makes those communities resilient and what doesn't," Ms O'Keefe said.
"We need some really good social research to underpin how much a drought affects a community, compared to all the other influences year in and year out."
Ms O'Keefe said politicians and government departments had to listen to communities when designating the funding.
"One of my big beefs is the funding that is given out is very political," she said.
"It's about politicians making an announcement and winning a point for themselves.
"We have to ask our politicians, are they prepared to walk away from that and give communities the funds they need for the projects that are really important to them?"