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Gauging drought impact on non-farm businesses

Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Finance and Project Officer Rebecca Wright and Senior Research Economist David Thompson monitor the non-farm business drought survey results.
Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Finance and Project Officer Rebecca Wright and Senior Research Economist David Thompson monitor the non-farm business drought survey results.

“The worst drought in modern record books isn’t just hurting farmers. Businesses in our regional towns are really doing it tough too. We are currently undertaking a survey to get the data to show just how much the big dry has impacted on the business sector, and what might be done to help. We are getting practical insights into how drought assistance could be more effective from the frontline,” Narrabri-based Chair of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) Russell Stewart said.

RDANI Senior Research Economist David Thompson worked with Finance and Project Officer Rebecca Wright to develop a survey that is short and to the point. “In addition to the common negatives associated with the ongoing drought, we know it has meant that business people are all the more time poor, so keeping the survey short was a priority. Combined with a strong desire from businesses to contribute to better understanding their plight, has already led to a fantastic response,” he said.

“It only took a couple of days to exceed 200 responses but the more we get, the more weight the outcomes of the survey will carry.”

“The downturn of non-farm businesses in regional communities because of the drought has taken an emotional, as well as a financial toll. The stories of struggle can be heart wrenching. Yet, we are seeing some extremely pragmatic and practical suggestions about how drought affected communities can be supported through realistic economic stimulus measures,” Mr Thompson said.

RDANI Executive Director Nathan Axelsson said the survey is not about politics. “As well as advocating for policy-shift, we want to help non-farm businesses access support or programs to help with this drought and similar weather events in the future. Agriculture is fundamental to regional economies. The drought is having direct and indirect negative impacts on communities and it is important that we quantify them,” he said.

“If you're a Non-Farming Business in the region please fill out the survey so that we can gather evidence for a call to action. It'll only take five minutes and can be completely anonymous.”

The survey can be accessed through RDANI social media or directly, at:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DroughtImpactOnBusinesses

“We hope this survey and the report we will compile from the results will inform and help Governments. This is the sort of data that can assist Governments to develop better support mechanisms for non-farm businesses in drought-affected areas now,” said Mr. Axelsson. “We also hope this project will aid in the creation of more effective drought-preparedness policies for non-farm businesses into the future.”

The deadline for survey responses is Thursday 31 October but this may be extended to cater for demand.

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