Climate adaptation project helps local producers cope with drought

The Queensland government is investing millions of dollars to help producers better manage drought and climate events with new tools including more reliable forecasting, insurance products and customised climate information.

Visiting the University of Southern Queensland campus at Toowoomba on November 7, minister for agricultural industry development Mark Furner said the $21-million Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP) was a partnership with leading scientists and industry to assist the grazing, cropping and horticulture industries.

The university is delivering two DCAP projects through the Queensland Drought Mitigation Centre to better understand droughts and climate variability, said Furner.

The Northern Australia Climate Program is an $8m partnership between the Queensland government, the university, and Meat and Livestock Australia Donor Company to help the grazing industry better manage drought and climate risks.

READ: Farmers call for drought policy reform in New South Wales

“The project is improving reliability of multi-week, seasonal and multi-year forecasts, and establishing a network of ‘Climate Mates’ to support the delivery of customised climate information and products into regional networks to help with business decision-making,” said Furner.

The university has also partnered with the Queensland Farmer’s Federation and international insurance company Willis Towers Watson to research and develop innovative and affordable insurance products tailored to Queensland’s cropping and horticulture industries, he said.

The team was working with a local dryland cropping farmer to discuss coverage of production costs if there’s insufficient rainfall/soil moisture during the fallow season, and if viable, this soil moisture index product could have wide usage for dryland cropping throughout Queensland and nationally, said Furner.

“Another local DCAP project is a partnership between the Queensland government and the Bureau of Meteorology looking at improved forecasts for the vegetable industry.

“Improving multi-week and seasonal forecasts and extreme weather events such as storms and heat waves will help improve farm, business and labour management decisions and these are being trialled in the Lockyer Valley and Granite Belt regions,” he said.

“DCAP’s projects will assist our primary producers and the agri-business sector in the Darling Downs and right across Queensland to manage the negative impacts of severe climate events and take better advantage of good seasons when they occur,” said Furner.

Australia’s agricultural traceability​ strengthened with new project

A national traceability project, which will help Australian farmers show the origins and quality of their produce, is underway.

​Australian minister for agriculture, David Littleproud, said the project would enhance trust in Australian-grown products and give farmers a competitive edge.

​”We’ll be able to more easily find where a biosecurity or food safety problem began so an isolated incident won’t impact a whole industry,” said Littleproud.

“It will also let us stop overseas shipments earlier if there’s a food safety issue. We already do this well but this will make us even better at it.

READ: A barcoded apple is more important than you may realise

“It will let producers fully support claims, such as organic and environmentally friendly,” he said.

“This improvement will build greater trust in Aussie food and strengthen ‘brand Australia’.

“If we can demonstrate our food is world’s best we’ll see better profits for farmers,” said Littleproud.

​Consultations will soon get underway to develop a national traceability policy framework and action plan within the next six months.

“Improving our traceability systems will help us strengthen our reputation for delivering high quality, clean, green and safe food,” said Littleproud.

The project is being led by a traceability working group with members from all Australian governments.