By Growcom CEO David Thomson

Now is the time for horticulture to declare its interest in shaping the future of drought policy in Australia.

For a long time we’ve played second fiddle to the livestock industry in terms of the support and assistance on offer.

It’s been the severity of this drought that has brought this discrepancy into a sharper relief than ever before.

The assistance and support for the livestock industry once justified on animal welfare grounds alone has since evolved into programs for building preparedness, both for when the season turns and for future droughts down the track.

Despite this evolving rationale of preparedness also applying equally to other parts of the agriculture sector, we’re only just now getting a look in.

We’ve had some recent gains, but more work is to be done.

The Australian Government recently extended eligibility for a 25% rebate on emergency water works, including new bores and desilting dams, to permanent tree and vine crops.

Still, in Queensland, the livestock industry enjoys a 50% top up from the State Government on this same rebate to a total of 75%.

Next week the Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee, chaired by former Agforce and NFF President Brent Finlay, kicks off its Queensland engagement.

This is an enormously important opportunity to shape our future drought and climate adaptation policy priorities.

Top of our agenda will be ensuring our industry gets exactly the attention it deserves, relative to the unique drought and climate change risks we face.

It’s a drought declaration of a different kind. And we shouldn’t be shy in making it.

Horticulture will do a lot of the heavy lifting if Australian agriculture is to make its target of $100B by 2030. Essential to our success will be further insulating the production of fresh fruit and vegetables from the vagaries of the seasons.