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Queensland drought assistance—Overview

The Queensland drought assistance will help Queensland primary producers better manage future droughts through new preparedness measures including tailored training, grants and loans.

The drought program reforms are the Queensland Government’s response to the Drought Program Review and will also deliver Queensland’s obligations under the National Drought Agreement.

Drought assistance has been broadened and is now open to all primary producers across all agricultural sectors to better manage future droughts without needing a drought declaration. The current Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) is limited to grazing livestock producers.

Drought preparedness measures

Producers can apply for assistance to develop farm resilience plans. Once a plan is completed, it enables access to grants and loans for activities to improve the drought preparedness of the business.

The measures that will be available in any year, regardless of drought status, include:

  • Farm Business Resilience Program

    Gives producers access to information and skills training to help determine their priorities in planning for future droughts and other business risks. This is co-funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, and delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The following measures will be delivered by QRIDA.

  • As part of the Farm Business Resilience Program, the Farm Management Grants Program provides a rebate of 50% to a maximum of $2,500 to primary producers for the cost of accessing professional help to develop a Farm Business Resilience Plan for their property.

  • Drought preparedness grants scheme

    Provides a rebate to primary producers of up to $50,000 for on-farm capital improvements identified in their Farm Business Resilience Plan to improve the drought preparedness of their property.

    The Drought Preparedness Grant is up to 25% of the cost of the infrastructure to a maximum of $50,000 in a year or spread over a five-year period.
  • Drought Ready and Recovery Loan Scheme                                  

    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. The loan can be matched with a drought preparedness grant.

In-drought assistance measures

Drought-declared producers in future droughts will be able to access:

  • Emergency Drought Assistance Loans Scheme   

    Provides an interest-free loan to primary producers of up to $50,000 as emergency finance for carry-on activities like paying wages or short-term creditors during drought. This will be delivered by QRIDA.

    Only one Emergency Drought Assistance Loan per business can be held at a time.
  • Drought Carry-on Finance Loan Scheme                                   

    Provides a concessional interest 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.

    Only one Drought Carry-on Finance Loan per business can be held at a time.

Timeframes

The new drought program guidelines are currently being developed in consultation with industry and the new schemes are likely to commence operation after September 2021.

Transitional arrangements and DRAS

The DRAS scheme will continue while this drought lasts. Producers who are currently drought-declared can still access existing drought assistance measures such as DRAS.

Drought-declared producers can continue accessing DRAS fodder and water freight subsidies and the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate (EWIR) until their drought status is revoked.

DRAS freight subsidies for the movement of livestock back to a property (purchased livestock and livestock returning from agistment) will remain available for 2 years after a current drought declaration is revoked.

Drought-declared producers can choose to move to the new drought preparedness grants and loans but will then lose access to DRAS. Producers cannot access both DRAS and the new measures at the same time. However, there is an exception—drought-declared producers can participate in the Farm Business Resilience Program and obtain a farm management grant for a farm business resilience plan while still accessing DRAS.

DRAS will not be available in future droughts. DRAS will be phased out as local government areas come out of drought. DRAS will not be available in future droughts.

DRAS freight subsidies in future droughts will be replaced by the zero interest Emergency Drought Assistance Loan Scheme and the concessional interest Drought Carry-on Finance Scheme. The 2 concessional loan schemes will be available to all eligible drought-declared primary producers while DRAS freight subsidies are only available for primary producers with grazing livestock. The concessional loans will help producers fund a wider range of activities than freight to keep their business in operation during drought.

Drought-declared producers can continue to access the Queensland EWIR under DRAS while this drought lasts, and the Federal On-Farm EWIR until June 2022 or earlier if its funding allocation is exhausted.

The Queensland EWIR will be replaced by the Drought Preparedness Grant which does not require a drought declaration and can be accessed in any year. The Drought Preparedness Grant can still be used for water infrastructure aimed at improving drought resilience. However, it will be available for a broader range of drought preparedness infrastructure than the EWIR.

For more information

Last updated: 01 Jul 2021