The Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, has announced changes to the current Farm Management Deposit (FMD) scheme, with the objective of enabling farmers to better manage during periods of uncertainty.
“The changes to come into effect on 1 July will double the deposit limit for FMDs from $400,000 to $800,000, allow financial institutions to offer FMDs as farm business loan offset accounts and re-establish early access provisions in times of drought,” said the Minister.
“These amendments, originally announced as part of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, will allow farmers greater flexibility in managing and accessing their own funds when they’re needed, as well as improving cash flows for farmers.
“As of 31 December 2015, Australia’s farmers had deposited $3.96 billion in FMDs and we want to make sure this scheme remains useful and fit-for-purpose now and into the future.”
You can read more about the changes to FMDs here: www.agriculture.gov.au/fmds.
In welcoming the changes, West Australian Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston called FMDs the greatest thing since sliced bread to help with drought management and bushfire. The Minister said he had been lobbying the Australian Government for many years for such help.
“This is a positive move. It’s important for farm operators because it allows them to put away money pre-tax in good seasons and fall back on it during periods of hardship. It makes good sense and I fully support these reforms for the business structure of agriculture in Australia,” he said.
Seasonal Forecasting: Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Project
Another Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper project that is currently underway is a $3.3 million Bureau of Meteorology project to improve seasonal forecasting for farmers, which aims to deliver more localised forecasts, improved modelling resolution from 250 kilometres down to 60 kilometres, as well as more frequent updates.
The project utilises a new supercomputer which should be operational by late 2016.
“Accurate, detailed and frequent climate outlooks are a vital tool for our farmers in managing risk and informing business decisions, supporting better returns at the farmgate. It’s been estimated that the potential value to the agriculture sector of improved seasonal forecasts is more than $1 billion each year,” Minister Joyce said.
“The supercomputer allows higher resolution and the models will be more frequent and more sophisticated. Ultimately this means more accurate forecasting.
“The Australian climate is more variable than almost anywhere in the world. Thanks to this important work farmers and other users will be better prepared to manage the fluctuations and extremes.”