Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has announced a push to bring Federal and State Governments together to establish a nationwide income protection scheme to safeguard farmers.

Ms Cooke said the campaign, launched by the NSW Nationals in Government, seeks to set up a way to insulate farmers against the financial impacts of future droughts.

“Our primary producers are facing one of the worst droughts in living memory and the NSW Nationals in Government want to ensure farmers never suffer the same financial hardship again,” Ms Cooke said.

“That’s why we are putting $2 million on the table to identify potential models that could be used to protect farmers against income loss in future droughts or even natural disasters.

“Farmers in the Cootamundra electorate have been hit hard by the current drought and many of them have raised with me the idea that we should be looking at potential insurance schemes to mitigate income loss during times of hardship.

“We have already committed $1.8 billion to drought assistance measures but we want to look to the future and makes sure the next dry spell is met with innovative ideas which will cushion its effects.

“I’m incredibly proud to be part of the NSW Nationals in Government who are demonstrating leadership on this issue and spearheading what could be a nationwide scheme to combat the impacts of drought.”

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said a national income protection scheme was the best measure to help farmers combat drought.

“The best drought assistance measure a government can deliver is to help the agricultural industry to self-insure,” Mr Marshall said.

“As this drought rolls on it’s obvious we need to be looking at ways to roll out a product that would cover all producers against the devastating loss of income that comes with drought and other natural events.

“This is something that has been called for by the agricultural sector for a very long time but so far insurance products have largely been constrained to individual production sectors within the industry.

“We’re putting money on the table and are determined to get this up and running. The Commonwealth and all other State Governments need to get involved and back this in too.”

The NSW Nationals in Government will investigate potential risk mitigation models that could be used to protect farm incomes during times of drought or other hardship, such as natural disasters. The project will involve looking at other comparable models in overseas jurisdictions as well as the best way to deliver the product across Australia.