The politics of drought is unfolding in interesting ways. The intense dry of 2018 is disrupting most farm businesses in NSW, and in response there’s been the usual political ditherings as the weather plays out incrementally. Both the NSW and Commonwealth governments have now announced major assistance packages farm businesses and powerful tv images are spurring community fundraising to provide direct assistance to farmers.
However, there’s also an emerging movement in the agricultural community against this natural disaster welfare approach. Across Australian farm businesses, there are big discrepancies between good and poor risk managers. Those at the higher end want to leverage that skill, but are restricted in some part by subsidies for those struggling when business conditions are difficult. That frustration is now taking hold on social media.
While these complaints make economic sense, the human element of family farm ownership and their importance to local communities will always compel governments to provide direct support when enough people need it.