Agriculture minister wants ‘best available science’ for drought plan

By Melissa Coade

February 22, 2022

David Littleproud
Minister for agriculture and northern Australia David Littleproud. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The CSIRO will help the government develop a regional drought-resilience plan for agriculture-dependent communities with $40.58 million from the Future Drought Fund.

Preparing for and recovering from future droughts will be the objective of a new regional drought-resilience plan to be devised with the support of the national science agency. State and territory governments will be responsible for delivering the pilot.

The $40 million plan will be financed with money from the $5 billion Future Drought Fund (comprising sustained government investment of $100 million each year).

Agriculture minister David Littleproud issued a statement explaining the initial program would draft tailored plans for 23 regions, with more regions to be added later.

“We’re going to tap into local knowledge, and pair that with the best available data, to identify pathways to resilience across agriculture and allied industries in each region,” Littleproud said.

“CSIRO will provide expert feedback on every plan to ensure regions are well-placed to tackle the risk of future droughts.”

Australia is one of the driest continents on the planet and this pilot will be integrated with the CSIRO-led Drought Resilience Mission goal of reducing the national impacts of drought by 30% by 2030. 

Dr Larry Marshall, CSIRO chief executive, said science could help Australian farmers and pastoralists prepare for drought crisis scenarios.

“Using breakthrough science to build resilience with practical regional plans, we can better prepare our regions and communities to anticipate and mitigate the severity of future drought,” Marshall said. 

The minister added that drought-resilience across Australia’s agriculture-dependent regions would benefit the agriculture sector as a whole.

“The stronger individual communities are, the more robust our industry becomes as we back the industry to reach its $100 billion agricultural sector by 2030,” Littleproud said.

Pilot regions for the first year of the program will include Wimmera Southern Mallee, Goulburn and Gippsland regions in Victoria; Fitzroy/Capricornia, Darling Downs plus South Burnett, Cape York/Torres Strait, Burdekin/Charters Towers, and south-west regions in Queensland; Murraylands/Riverland, Yorke Peninsula/Mid North and Far North/Outback regions in SA; Northern Midwest, Southern Wheatbelt and Great Southern Inland in WA; Southern Alice Springs and Barkly Pastoral Districts  Tasmania; south, north, north-west in the NT; and all of the ACT.

The chosen regions for NSW are yet to be announced.


READ MORE:

We found a secret history of megadroughts written in tree rings. The wheatbelt’s future may be drier than we think

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