Mick Keogh.A MAJOR review of NSW drought policies concludes preparedness trumps in-drought support measures such as transport subsidies.
Australian Farm Institute’s (AFI) Review of NSW Response to Drought Policy Reforms, published today, states past drought support measures had not been inconsistent.
“One of the abiding frustrations of drought policy in Australia is that after the drought is over, nobody goes back and looks at what works and what doesn’t,” said AFI executive director Mick Keogh.
This report looked at how ineffective and unfair transport and fodder subsidies were.
Using subsidy statistics from previous droughts, Mr Keogh said they appeared to reach less than 10 per cent of affected landowners.
This was partly because the subsidies only helped livestock producers who could agist, while specialist croppers could lose both winter and summer crops and get nothing back.
At the same time, low interest government loans for drought stricken producers had problems.
“(Government loans with a time period of) three to five years have the potential to create as many problems as they solve,” he said.
“The risk for a government is they become a lender of last resort… no government wants to foreclose on farm businesses.”
He said work had to be done on low interest loans to determine whether five years was enough breathing space for producers.
A significant recommendation of the report was for NSW to have a formal drought response framework, with definite trigger points for stages of drought and clear identification of the roles of government and the farm sector.
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