Additional drought support now available for SA farm businesses
Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
SA Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, the Hon. Leon Bignell MP
20 February 2015
Drought-affected farmers in South Australia can now access additional financial support, with Australian Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and South Australian Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell, announcing applications are now open for $10 million in Drought Concessional Loans.
Minister Joyce said the loans scheme had been designed to support drought recovery and longer term profitability for farm businesses affected by drought.
“Across Australia, farmers are continuing to feel the impacts of drought—these loans will help those doing it tough to restructure existing debt, or to fund operating expenses or drought recovery activities,” Minister Joyce said.
“Eligible farm businesses will be able to access loans of up to $1 million or 50 per cent of eligible debt, whichever is lower, at an initial interest rate of 3.84 per cent.”
Minister Bignell has welcomed the opening of the loans scheme in South Australia.
“Farmers in the state’s far north in particular have been really struggling. I’ve seen first-hand the level of financial and social hardship in these communities and these concessional loans will help greatly,” Minister Bignell said.
“These loans will provide support for farm businesses experiencing a one in 10 year or a one in 20 year drought event.
“Maps to help assess eligibility will be based on the driest 12 months in the previous 24 months, so any recent rains experienced, especially in the north eastern pastoral areas, are unlikely to change the drought assessment.”
Minister Joyce said this assistance is in addition to the $25 million the Australian Government has already made available to South Australian farm businesses through the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme this financial year, which is not specific to farm businesses in drought.
“In addition to concessional loans, there is a range of assistance available to farmers and rural communities experiencing hardship, including income support through the Farm Household Allowance and free financial counselling through the Rural Financial Counselling Service,” Minister Joyce said.
“To date, 384 South Australian farmers have been approved for the Farm Household Allowance.
“I strongly encourage farmers not to self-assess their eligibility for any of these assistance measures but to talk to the experts and find out more about their options.”
Minister Bignell said the loans scheme follows an assistance packaged delivered to drought-affected pastoralists comprising $275,000 from the South Australian Government, $375,000 from the Commonwealth, and an additional $200,000 from the SA Arid Lands NRM Board, for water infrastructure and wild dog control.
Details about the Drought Concessional Loans Scheme in South Australia, including eligibility criteria and application details, can be found at pir.sa.gov.au. For more information on a range of Australian Government assistance for farmers, farm businesses and rural communities, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.