Farming and agriculture is an important foundation of Victoria's economy and prosperity. These industries form vibrant regional communities, with food and fibre employing 190,000 Victorians.
Much of Victoria has received below average rainfall since July 2014, and soil moisture is at record lows in areas of the state, with water levels falling. This is putting stress on many farmers, small businesses and rural communities, particularly in the north west.
In November 2015, the Victorian Government announced a $27 million Drought Response Package to support Victoria's drought affected farmers, small businesses and communities. $17 million of support was targeted to the most drought affected areas in North West Victoria.
Drought Support Fund
An additional $10 million Drought Support Fund was announced in March 2016, following extensive consultation with farming groups and communities affected by drought.
Measures that focus on community health and wellbeing, and preparedness to deal with the impacts of long-term drought, were identified through these consultations as priorities, along with measures that have broad community benefits such as community precincts and investing in agricultural traineeships for school leavers.
The Drought Support Fund assists farming communities and boosts regional economies through the following programs:
- Drought Employment Program ($3.15 million) – employing farmers, farm workers and individuals affected by drought to undertake environmental projects
- Drought Extension Program ($655,000) – accelerating delivery of additional farm information and advisory services to support farmers during drought and dry seasons
- Stock Containment Areas Program ($620,500) – providing eligible farmers with grants of up to $2,000 and technical support to implement stock containment areas
- Community events ($120,000) – providing local councils with continued support to implement important community events that bring people together and promote drought impacted regions.
New initiatives are also being established to build community and business resilience for the longer term:
- dedicated small business services provided by the Rural Financial Counselling Service
- new agriculture traineeships for school leavers – supporting training for school leavers in drought affected communities
- Farm Risk Management Grants program – providing eligible farm businesses with grants up to $10,000 to better manage risks and manage farm performance in changing climatic conditions
- Recreational Water and Sport Grants – providing assistance for sport and recreational infrastructure projects
- Funding for Foodbank – to support new refrigeration for the organisation to store food donations.
The drought response package complements support which is already available to Victoria's farmers and communities state-wide.
For more information visit the Agriculture Victoria Drought Response website.
Page last updated: 15 December 2016