A $2.7 Billion Fund Starts Helping Australia Cope With Drought

Australia revealed the first projects to be financially backed by its A$3.9 billion ($2.7 billion) investment fund to help farmers cope with crippling drought that’s ravaged the giant agricultural producer.

Starting this month, the government will allocate A$100 million annually from the Future Drought Fund, including on projects that help farmers cope with climate risks.

Australia’s farmers have struggled with years of severe water shortages that have slashed livestock herds and devastated output of commodities including grains, cotton and wool. While conditions have improved in some areas this year after solid rainfall, the country is seeing increasingly volatile weather-related disasters, including flooding and wildfires.

“We are funding farm business planning, greater access to information for decision-making, adoption of research and technologies, and building the drought resilience of natural resources such as soil and vegetation in agricultural landscapes,” said Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. The fund is expected to grow to A$5 billion by 2028-2029.

Funding in the first round went to initiatives including a project to assist farmers develop business plans to help mitigate climate and financial risk, an online risk-assessment tool as well as the development of interactive digital climate information services. It was also spent on community projects to improve drought resilience, including small-scale infrastructure. The programs will start rolling out this month.

The National Farmers Federation said many of the funded programs aligned with its own goal to have 90% of farmers employing multiple financial risk management tools by 2030 to help manage volatility in the industry.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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