Hunter farmers are digesting a new Australia-wide plan to combat the effects of drought.
And some are already wondering just how beneficial the federal government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund will be in assisting them to survive one of the worst droughts in living memory.
The fund, announced on Friday during the national Drought Summit in Canberra, won’t have $5 billion in the kitty for 10 years.
It will start with a $3.9 billion investment and each year from July 2020 $100 million, in earnings, will be available to fund water infrastructure and drought resilience projects.
The balance will go back into the fund so it grows to $5 billion over the next 10 years.
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The government says the money will be used to provide community services, research, assist with the adoption of technology and advice and infrastructure to support long term sustainability during drought.
One Day Closer to Rain Facebook page founder Cassandra McLaren said members had mixed reactions about the plan and were keen to see the finer details, including the eligibility criteria.
“There is some appreciation that the government is looking forward to the future.”
Farmers want to know about immediate assistance and help. They are skeptical about the long-term plan – they are skeptical that there is an election coming up and the promises won’t be upheld,Cassandra McLaren
The government’s Drought Communities Program will also give $1 million to 81 Local Government Areas to help stimulate their economies.
On top of that, the $50 million On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme will fund up to 25 per cent of the cost of new on-farm water infrastructure to provide water for stock.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the drought fund had the flexibility to help farmers who had a wide range of circumstances and challenges. The government will also spend $31 million to improve mental health facilities, and give $30 million to key charities to help support at least 10,000 households.