Debt and drought support—the top issues at rural summit
5 December 2014
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, is in Queensland today to hear from farmers and graziers who are struggling with debt about the impact it has on their businesses, families and communities.
Minister Joyce is in Winton, Queensland, attending the Rural Debt Crisis Summit to better understand the issues on the ground and to explain current Australian Government assistance measures.
“Agriculture is a unique industry that underpins all Australians’ way of life. Farmers and their families can control many things – but not the weather,” Minister Joyce said.
“While we can’t force the rain to fall we can provide access to low interest loans so that our farmers and graziers can better manage their finances and businesses during drought – and as they recover.
“This government has been listening to those farmers struggling with debt and to those who are drought-affected and we’re delivering.
“Yesterday I announced targeted government assistance for drought-affected farmers in Queensland and New South Wales through the $100 million Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Scheme.
“Farm businesses will be able to apply for a loan up to $1 million over 10 years at a variable concessional interest rate initially set at 3.21 per cent,” Minister Joyce said.
“Since February the Australian Government has rolled out a range of support measures under a $320 million Drought Support Package, including business support through the Drought Concessional Loans, which includes $100 million for Queensland, and an improved income support payment – the Farm Household Allowance.
“And we have delivered the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme to all states and the Northern Territory, with another $210 million in funding available this financial year.
“So far more than 280 farm businesses across Queensland and New South Wales have had loans approved under the government’s Farm Finance and Drought Concessional Loans schemes.
“We are also working with the banks, farmers and state governments to develop a nationally consistent approach to farm debt mediation,” Minister Joyce said.
Farm Debt Mediation offers a formal structure for a farmer and their bank to negotiate issues around farm debt.
Yesterday, I also released a joint report into rural bank debt data which was the final outcome to be completed from the Agricultural Finance Forum I hosted in Canberra in September.
“Our current support measures are making a difference to how our farmers manage debt during drought.
“This government remains committed to reinvigorating our agricultural industries and I welcome this opportunity for producers and banking institutions to come together with government representatives so we can see what else could be done.”
For information on assistance for farmers and farming businesses visit agriculture.gov.au/drought .