AS a soldier Major-General Stephen Day has worked in some incredibly challenging environments.
Now the head of the Australian Government's Joint Agency Drought Taskforce, he faces unprecedented circumstances on home soil.
He admits the government should have come to the table with policy and workable solutions to the drought earlier.
"We were all a bit too slow to come to this problem, next time let’s be quicker," he said. At least 6000 eligible farmers are yet to apply for the Farm Household Allowance [FHA], it provides income support for up to four years.
Farmers in NSW are by far the biggest recipients of the aid, with more than 83 per cent are in drought or intense drought, and the other 16 per cent are drought-affected as proved by the Department of Primary Industries.
Last month Mr Day visited Narrabri and Moree farmers who he said face the worst drought in their lived experience.
It should not be seen as a crisis but managed as a normal part of the experience.Major-General Stephen Day
He's treated the drought much in the same way he does a conflict zone overseas. First, listen, assess the situation and then act.
"Circumstances of a challenge are never replicated perfectly the next time around, farmers consistently say no two droughts are the same," Mr Day said.
"We need to set it up so there isn't this constantly moving change and confusion, we are transitioning from dealing with this as an exceptional circumstance into a steady, long-term arrangement."
Farmers eligible for financial assistance can access an extra lump sum of $6000 from March 1.
But, they have to meet the income and assets test limits, for farmers who are asset rich but cash-poor it can make access to the funds difficult.
Moving forward government policy needs to treat drought as a normal cycle for farm businesses, Mr Day said.
"The government has to have policy settings to inform people and incentivise farmers to take up measures to mitigate the risk of drought when it lands," he said.
"It should not be seen as a crisis but managed as a normal part of the experience."