Apply now for 2015-16 Drought Concessional Loans in Victoria
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford
23 October 2015
Applications are now open for drought-affected farmers in Victoria under the 2015–16 round of the Drought Concessional Loans scheme.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, said the scheme will help those doing it tough to manage through drought and to fund drought recovery and preparedness activities.
"Drought is one of the biggest challenges our farmers face—and I have seen first-hand the devastating impact it has on our rural communities," Minister Joyce said.
"This is why the White Paper invests $2.97 billion to help farmers manage risk and prepare for drought, as well as giving them greater certainty about what support will be provided in-drought.
"Investing in better drought preparedness and risk management is an investment in our nation's future prosperity and the stability of our rural communities.
"$30 million is available for loans in Victoria under the Drought Concessional Loans Scheme during 2015‑16.
"We have also committed up to $250 million nationally each year for a new concessional loans product that will be available for 10 years from 2016–17, and we're working to make these new loans more flexible and streamlined."
Minister Pulford urged Victorian farmers experiencing financial stress as a result of worsening conditions to seek advice about concessional loans and other support measures available.
"We've seen below average rainfall here in Victoria and we know that unfortunately that it is going to get drier," Ms Pulford said.
"In recent weeks I have visited drought affected areas and seen first-hand the impact these conditions are having on our farming families and their communities."
"The Andrews Labor Government is continuing to actively monitor conditions and provide targeted information and support to those farmers who need it."
Minister Joyce said 124 farm businesses across Victoria had already been approved for a loan under the Australian Government's concessional loans schemes.
"We are committed to delivering practical policies for the agriculture sector, backed with genuine investment," Minister Joyce said.
"We are already delivering on our commitment under the Ag White Paper to better support drought and risk management.
"The Ag White Paper allocated $25.8 million to tackle pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas—applications are already open in Queensland for pest and weed control programmes, and we are working with the Victorian Government to establish funding assistance for pest and weed control.
"We have already rolled out $20 million in additional funding to expand access to community mental health and family support in drought-affected areas, with additional drought coordinators now at work.
"We have also delivered more funding for Rural Financial Counselling Service providers in drought-affected areas; and work is underway on projects to help farmers manage risk by providing more localised, accurate climate forecasts, and to help them evaluate options for insurance and risk management.
"A dedicated ATO hotline for drought-affected taxpayers is also up and running on 13 11 42 (select Option 3). Over 8300 calls have already been made to this new service.
"I strongly encourage any farmer thinking about applying for a concessional loan or any other assistance measure to talk to someone at Rural Finance, their local rural financial counseling service or the Department of Human Services to find out more about their options," Minister Joyce said.
To find out more about drought concessional loans please contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit ruralfinance.com.au.
For more information on the range of Australian Government assistance for farmers, farm businesses and rural communities, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.
For more information on the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.