The Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO recently released the sixth State of the Climate report, which draws on the latest climate research, encompassing observations, analyses and projections to describe year-to-year variability and longer-term changes in Australia’s climate. The report identified key trends including the continued warming of Australia’s climate, declining rainfall in the southeast and southwest, an increase in extreme fire weather and rising sea levels.
Associated changes in weather and climate extremes—such as extreme heat, heavy rainfall and coastal inundation, fire weather and drought—have a large impact on the health and wellbeing of our communities and ecosystems. Queensland is the most disaster impacted state in Australia and as farmers are all too aware, they are part and parcel of life on the land. However, having years of hard work wiped out in minutes or hours is stressful and emotional for farmers. For many businesses, total recovery isn’t simple and may be impossible, leaving them more vulnerable to the next event.
Disaster recovery on the farm is different to other sectors of the economy, and therefore needs to be treated differently. The process must be amended if it is to better meet the needs of modern agriculture. Risk mitigation resources, building business continuity management tools and delivering preparedness skills is essential to enabling a ‘shovel ready’ disaster recovery program for agriculture. Industry Recovery and Resilience Officers could be immediately deployed so they can provide assessment for the response phase, short and long term technical advice when it is needed and has the greatest benefit to continuing production processes.
Many stressful decisions are made in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters, as farmers try to restore their businesses, rebuild farm assets and restart production. But an interruption also serves as an opportunity to make changes to practices, products or improve business strategies. A ‘shovel ready’ approach coupled with a long-term embedding of business continuity into farm processes would position farmers into better shape to manage future events. With an appropriate level of government support, QFF, its members and cross-industry partners would be able to deliver support for farmers and build sustainable processes into recovery.