Farmers are urging the federal government to look to the future as Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepares to reveal his latest plans to tackle the drought at a national summit.
Mr Morrison has foreshadowed an announcement at Friday’s meeting in Canberra, where leaders and agriculture industry leaders will come together.
The National Farmers’ Federation wants a new agreement between commonwealth and state governments to provide a national approach to drought preparation, response and recovery.
NFF president Fiona Simson said while government support for the current drought was important, farmers would be better served by a holistic plan for dry times.
“I believe it is a well accepted view, from the prime minister down, that we can’t afford to continue to be reactive in responding to drought,” Ms Simson said.
The NFF will also propose effective and affordable agricultural insurance products be available to farmers to manage drought.
“We’re calling on the government to consider introducing a 150 per cent tax incentive for agricultural insurance premiums for five years,” Ms Simson said.
The bolstering and refinement of the Rural Financial Counselling Service and the Farm Household Allowance are also priorities for the NFF.
In an entree to the summit, Mr Morrison announced a $15 million grant program for regional community groups on Thursday.
Mr Morrison told reporters there would always be criticism of the government’s drought response inside the “Canberra bubble”, but communities backed more money to support local economies.
Ms Simson says the summit is a chance to get the farming sector together to take action on a long-term drought strategy.
“It is an opportunity not to be squandered.”
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the event would be a chance to review the government’s drought settings, praising Labor for their bipartisan approach to the issue.
“It’s important to understand the story of agriculture is still a good one – one of just add rain,” he told parliament.
A new drought finance task force bringing together major agricultural lenders, the government and the National Farmers’ Federation had its first meeting on Thursday.