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Drought assistance programs

The Queensland Government and Australian Government offer programs to help farm families, farm businesses and farm communities affected by drought. This page provides broad descriptions of government drought assistance programs available to Queensland producers.

  • Significant drought reforms will help Queensland primary producers better manage future droughts through a suite of proactive measures including tailored grants and loans.

    The new drought preparedness measures will be open to all primary producers without needing a drought declaration.

    The Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) will continue while this drought lasts. Drought-declared producers can choose to continue accessing DRAS support or transition to the new measures. Once they access the new measures, they cannot go back to DRAS which will be phased out as local government areas come out of drought. All other existing in-drought assistance measures will be considered for future droughts.

    These new drought preparedness measures will be available for application through QRIDA from late 2021.

    These measures are funded by the Queensland Government. The Farm Business Resilience Program and the Farm Management Grants are jointly funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and the Queensland Government.

    The new measures include:

    Farm Business Resilience Program

    Skills training will be offered for drought and climate preparedness and other business risk management for primary producers through the Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP). Primary producers in the grazing, cropping, mixed farming, sugar cane, dairy and tropical horticulture industries will be able to access activities which will increase their capacity to manage climate-related risks and will also build business resilience.

    The Farm Management Grants Program will provide a rebate of 50% to a maximum of $2,500 to primary producers for the cost of developing a Farm Business Resilience Plan for their property, which will be delivered by QRIDA.

    More information about this program will be available here in the last quarter of 2021. You may also stay informed by subscribing to Agriculture News or the Drought and Climate Adaptation newsletter.

    This program is supported by the Drought and Climate Adaptation Program through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and the Queensland Government.

    Drought Preparedness Grants

    The Drought Preparedness Grants Scheme will provide a rebate to primary producers of up to $50,000 for on-farm capital improvements identified in their Farm Business Resilience Plan that will improve the drought preparedness of their property.

    Drought Ready and Recovery Loan Scheme

    The Drought ready and recovery finance loan provides a concessional loan of up to $250,000 for primary producers to undertake preparedness measures identified in their Farm business resilience plan to improve the drought preparedness of their property. This is a complementary measure to the drought preparedness grants.

    Emergency Drought Assistance Loan Scheme

    The Emergency Drought Assistance Loans Scheme provides an interest-free concessional loan to primary producers of up to $50,000 as emergency finance for carry-on activities like paying wages or creditors during drought.

    Drought Carry-On Finance Loan Scheme

    The Drought Carry-On Finance Loans Scheme provides a concessional loan to primary producers of up to $250,000 for drought carry-on finance during drought. These loans will be available where the $50,000 available from the Emergency Drought Assistance Loans Scheme is insufficient to manage drought conditions.

    These new drought assistance measures are the Queensland Government’s response to the Drought Program review and will also deliver Queensland’s obligations under the National Drought Agreement.

    Read an overview of Queensland drought assistance measures.

  • Drought Relief Assistance Scheme

    The Drought Relief Assistance Scheme is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries DRAS provides:

    • freight subsidies for the transport of fodder, water and livestock; and
    • the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate (EWIR).

    Access the guidelines and application forms.

    DRAS will be phased out as local government areas come out of drought. If you are still drought declared you can still access DRAS; however, if you wish to access some of the new drought assistance measures available you may lose your eligibility to DRAS. Please refer to the Queensland drought assistance overview on the new Queensland drought assistance.

    Bee Industry Assistance Package

    The bee industry relief package includes:

    • Apiary permit fee waivers for State forests, national parks and other protected areas, for the 2020-21 financial year. Permit holders will not need to make a special application, as assistance will be applied automatically. Refunds of fees already paid will also be applied automatically for the applicable financial year.

    Read more about the Beekeeping Industry Assistance Package (PDF, 509.8KB).

    Australian Government On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate

    Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is operating the Australian Government On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate on behalf of the Australian Government. The rebate includes:

    • a 12.5% rebate for new purchases and installation of water infrastructure for livestock. This rebate was added automatically to the Queensland Government’s Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate. The Queensland Government will continue to provide a 50% rebate under the scheme
    • a 25% rebate for the cost of a contractor to desilt dams used for livestock on your property under the Dam Desilting Rebate (jointly funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments)
    • a 25% rebate for the cost of drilling a new bore and/or desilting a dam for properties with permanent horticulture tree crops (jointly funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments).

    Access the guidelines and application forms.

    Regional Drought Resilience Program

    The Regional Drought Resilience Program will provide funding to local governments in key drought regions that rely heavily on agriculture.

    The program will support regional organisations, local government, communities and industry to partner together to develop regional drought resilience plans. Regional drought resilience plans will identify and guide actions to build the region’s resilience to future droughts, with a focus on agriculture and allied industries. Plans will be developed through a triple bottom line, collaborative and evidence-based approach.

    Regional drought resilience plans will be independently assessed and published to allow communities to learn from each other.

    This program/project is jointly funded through Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and the Queensland Government.

    QRIDA drought support

    The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) provides a range of measures that can assist drought affected producers including:

    • Low interest Sustainability Loans up to $1.3 million can be used for a variety of drought-related infrastructure that can improve the long term productivity such as de-silting dams, purchasing equipment for feeding and fodder production, adding water points and water infrastructure to exclusion fencing.
    • Existing loan clients can talk with QRIDA about possible repayment options to alleviate financial pressure.
    • Restructuring farm debt—QRIDA has a free advisory service to access independent financial experts to analyse your farm business and provide you with restructuring options for your farm debt.

    For more information freecall 1800 623 946 or visit QRIDA drought support page.

    Pest animal and weed management in drought-affected areas

    The Queensland Government and Australian Government fund projects aimed at wild dog, cat, feral pig, rabbit and weed management in Queensland.

    Read more about:

    If you would like more information please phone the Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

    Other drought rebates and fee relief

    Find out about other drought rebates and fee relief, including land rent rebates, water fee relief and transport-related drought assistance.

    Other assistance

  • Read more about financial counselling services.

    The Queensland Government has contributed additional funding to the Australian Government's Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS).

  • A range of counselling services are available for drought-affected communities.

    Health care services

    Queensland Health provides primary mental health support to drought-affected areas through the Drought Wellbeing Service provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

    Queensland Health also provides grants and coordination of local mental health services through the Tackling Regional Adversity through Integrated Care program to help build community resilience to drought, disaster and other crises.

    Transport concessions and school transport allowance

    The Department of Transport and Main Roads provides transport concessions for primary producers in drought and increased school transport allowances for some families that drive their children to school or connect with a school bus run.

  • Mr Mark O’Brien and Mr Vaughan Johnson were appointed by the Premier and Minister for Trade on 13 August 2018 as Drought Commissioners. The role of the Commissioners is to ensure that the government remains appropriately informed of current drought conditions and provide updates to the Government on the impacts of drought on rural and remote communities.

    The Commissioners liaise with other stakeholders in the agriculture sector and provide a direct conduit to the Government, including the Premier and Minister for Trade and the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, for any issues arising from the current drought. This includes current conditions and the effectiveness of drought assistance across affected areas of the State and the Government response.

    If you would like to contact the Commissioners please email or if you would like further information please call 13 25 23.

  • On 12 December 2018, Queensland as a member of the Council of Australian Governments agreed and signed a new National Drought Agreement (PDF, 455KB) (NDA). The NDA sets out a joint approach to drought preparedness, responses and recovery, with a focus on accountability and transparency. The agreement recognises the need to support farming businesses and farming communities to manage and prepare for climate change and variability. The NDA focuses on enhancing long-term preparedness and resilience.

    More information is available about the Farm Business Training Skill Sets under the National Training Package for agriculture and horticulture.

Last updated: 13 Aug 2021