QFF tackle Natural Disasters

By STUART ARMITAGE, QFF President

With the end of the year approaching our minds start to look towards the Christmas and New Year summer season and all the joys and rigmarole that come with it. In sort of an unfortunate Queensland tradition it’s also the time of year we start preempting and preparing for the ‘the next big one’. In Queensland natural disasters are a way of life. Whether we are being inundated by a flood, battered by a tropical cyclone or parched by a drought; it is essential that we have the mechanisms in place to support and prepare our farmers and primary industries.

The current cost to the Australian economy caused by natural disasters is estimated to be $6.3 billion per year and projected to rise incrementally to $23 billion by 2050. A recent Deloitte study has also concluded that for an investment of $250 million nationally in resilience measures would return over $12.2 billion in savings. This is why QFF and governments continue to work with industry to implement and deliver disaster assistance and resilience planning.

QFF recently completed a project looking into natural disaster resilience planning in Queensland agriculture. This project, supported by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, was a proactive project aimed at initiating the conversation around preparedness and resilience planning for natural disasters. The report provided government with specific recommendations to improve communications and policy implementations. QFF remain committed to working in conjunction with them to ensure the lessons learned make a difference on the ground.

In 2016 one particularly exciting service will be QFF’s disaster and drought assistance website that will provide comprehensive advice tailored to landholders industry and region. This will be a useful tool for those farmers affected by drought and disaster in navigating local and government support programs designed to assist and get them back on their feet.

The continuation the Cyclone Marcia Agricultural Recovery Project will concentrate on finalising recovery from the 2014 event, however with a renewed emphasis on preparing industry for next time. Industry Recovery Officers (IRO) will continue to facilitate the sustained planning effort required by producers to ensure their resilience and preparedness for future natural disasters. This work is being carried out in partnership with AgForce, Growcom, Nursery & Garden Industry Queensland (NGIQ), and the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO).

QFF will also be working at a national level in 2016 through the National Emergency Management Projects– Disaster Resilience Planning for Australian Agriculture project. The Project Advisory Committee, made up of industry and government departments from around the country will meet for the first time next week. Three (3) industry and regionally based pilot studies will be undertaken across Australia to test the resilience planning framework. The results will highlight opportunities and develop a regional/industry resilience model. The project will be completed by September 2016, and will focus on the future national rollout improving resilience across the agricultural sector.

The Queensland and Federal Governments have spent millions of dollars in recent years on the recovery of natural disaster. By investing in industry led resilience and preparedness, the costs associated with these inevitable events will be reduced and the effects on agriculture managed. QFF will continue to work with individual industries, government and the community broadly to ensure that the ‘next big one’, really isn’t that big after all.