THE federal government has begun rolling out its first wave of funding from the $4-billion Future Drought Fund.
Eight programs, worth almost $90 million have been announced, all aimed at making farmers and regional communities more drought resilient.
The first round of programs include funding for farm business planning, greater access to information for decision-making, the adoption of research and technologies, and building the drought resilience of natural resources such as soil and vegetation.
Agriculture and Drought Minister David Littleproud said the newly announced programs would give farmers and communities the tools they needed to "prepare for, manage and sustain their livelihoods" during droughts.
"The programs will help farmers to build resilience and prepare for future droughts," Mr Littleproud said.
"Communities will also benefit through improved regional planning, strengthening networks, leadership and community capabilities and small-scale infrastructure projects."
The programs were developed based of expert advice from an independent consultation committee, led by former National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay, who toured the nation getting community input.
The Future Drought Fund, which is expected to eventually grow to $5 billion, will make $100 million available annual for drought resilience projects.
Mr Littleproud said a further announcement would be made on the remaining funds after rollout of the initial programs.
New drought programs
- $20m Farm Business Resilience program: providing farm businesses with training to strengthen their strategic business management skills and develop a farm business plan to build risk management capacity and drought resilience.
- $10m Climate Services for Agriculture program: funding the development and delivery of interactive digital 'climate information services' for the agriculture sector to assist farmers to make real-time decisions.
- $3m Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool: an online self-assessment tool for farmers to self-identify drought risks based on a range of social, economic and environmental indicators, and take action to build the drought resilience of their farm business.
- $20.3m Drought Resilience Research and Adoption program: will establish two regionally located Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs, and Innovation Grants will become available to research organisations, private sector, industry, not-for-profit organisations and community groups.
- $15m Natural Resource Management (NRM) Drought Resilience program: funding regional NRM bodies to undertake projects to build drought resilience of natural resources on agricultural landscapes, and there will also be grants available to organisations, farmer groups and individuals to undertake NRM projects to build the drought resilience of natural resources on small scales.
- $3.75m Networks for Building Drought Resilience program: supporting community-driven projects that enhance drought resilience and strengthen networks, including small-scale infrastructure projects to make community facilities drought resilient.
- $7.45m Drought Resilience Leaders program: developing leadership capability in communities and include a mentoring component to foster uptake of innovative practices to build drought resilience of farmers and their businesses.
- $10m Regional Drought Resilience Planning: providing funding to consortia of local councils or equivalent entities to develop Regional Drought Resilience Plans for agriculture and allied industries.