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Drought summit underway in Canberra today

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Australia’s peak farming body along with the Federal and State Governments will meet for a drought summit in Canberra today.

The meeting will see the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) sit down with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and his state counterparts and premiers.

New England MP and Special Envoy for Drought Assistance Barnaby Joyce will also be at the meeting and said while a lot of people question the relevance of meeting, it’s not all about sitting around talking about what they already know.

“The main focus is all of the work that we have been doing to basically draw up the policy to get a better outcome to support people who are actually dealing with drought or recovering from drought because some people now have had the good rain, not everybody just some people,”

“To make sure that as we go forward with that the ideas that we have are the ideas that come back to us from the forum and we haven’t finalised our position so if we need to make changes we can. That’s the whole point,” he said.

“It’s basically, some people are cynical about it, to truth test your policy ideas. You go out you get your policy ideas, you get your policies drawn up, you have your first draft of it, then you get the people in from the forum and say o what do you think it needed and then you start looking through what you’ve got and start saying if we did this would this work better.”

“It’s not a case that we walk in there with nothing, we walk in there with substantial stuff.”

The NFF has outlined a number recommendations they wish to push at the drought summit in a bid to help battling farmers on the ground.

Some of their recommendations include:

  • Federal, state and territory governments launch negotiations to extend the scope, effectiveness and consistency of drought programs under the intergovernmental agreement
  • Change Farm Management Deposit rules to increase their uptake and effectiveness
  • Infrastructure projects that assist drought-impacted regions and a major soil improvement program
  • Change Farm Household Allowance criteria and improve support services to enable more timely access to and effective use of the welfare payment

Barnaby Joyce said the drought initiatives that are put in place need input from as many people as they can.

“That allows a package to go forward that has the support of not just the cabinet in parliament, but also a whole heap of people on the ground in drought-affected areas,”

“They’re doing the same thing we are doing and that’s hopefully listening to people out in the country.”

“We’re probably getting the same mail which is good!”

The drought summit gets underway in Canberra this morning and Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also expected to announce a $5 billion Future Drought Fund.