Update 4pm: Wimmera residents have told a committee creating a $5 million drought resilience fund to keep the application process simple and accessible for small communities.
Committee member Caroline Welsh said at a consultation at Horsham Golf Club on Tuesday, attendees were excited to learn it was a fund aimed at preventing drought harm instead of responding once drought arrived.
"We're hoping funding programs will be available for individual farm businesses, but also to leverage state governments, agribusinesses and non-government organisations," she said.
"Today there were suggestions about considering access to health and education in regional areas, and making it easy for people who don't have the capacity or capability to spend time applying for programs."
Earlier: THE chairman of an independent committee determining what a $5 billion drought resilience fund should look like is urging Wimmera farmers and organisations to share their feedback.
Brent Findlay and the Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee hosted a meeting at Horsham Golf Club on Tuesday - part of six weeks of forums across Australia to inform the Future Drought Fund.
The draft Future Drought Fund will provide $100 million each year from July 1 for projects that enhance preparations and responses to drought.
Victorian Farmers Federation Wimmera branch president Graeme Maher expressed concerns to the Mail-Times that the committee would miss out on hearing Wimmera farmers' perspectives. His organisation learned of the forum on Tuesday morning.
Mr Finlay said the consultations would hear from farmers and their communities on what they needed to be resilient into the future.
"Part of the plan is that programs will drop out, and that's what we're talking about now," he said. "The programs aren't set yet. Once we get the plan finalised, we will start developing the programs so the money can receive funding applications.
"It's to build drought resilience in farm businesses but also communities. There is $3.9 billion sitting in the fund and that will rise to $5 billion by 2028.
"Certainly this process is spread pretty quickly with the legislation in July this year, and the funds to be dispersed in July next year. This plan has to go back to the parliament in February to be ratified."
Mr Finlay, a former National Farmers Federation president, said while each region had its own issues and ideas, water quality and availability was a common theme.
Mr Maher said he was not notified about the consultation in Horsham until Tuesday morning.
He said the news left him "scrambling" to get people to the consultation so committee members could hear farmers' ideas in person.
"I could offer a personal opinion, but we could have put it to a branch meeting we had last Monday to plan out a strategy and work out what we would say," he said.
"How good a consultation is it, if we weren't even told?"
Mr Maher said drought resilience had been built into Wimmera farming systems in recent years through the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline Project and the uptake of larger on-farm grain storages, among other measures.
"It's better to do it by choice than be incentivised by the government," he said.
Mr Finlay said he was "disappointed" information about the consultation did not get to some Wimmera farmers.
He said the committee asked all farming organisations invested in the fund to distribute information on the forums through their networks.
"We want the messages spread wide and far," he said. "If they were unaware of it, I apologise for that and I'm disappointed that's the case."
Mr Finlay encouraged people to make a submission online.