Media Release

Ag White Paper delivers $2.5 billion in concessional loan access to farmers

5 July 2015

Through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Australian Government will give drought-affected farmers greater certainty about in-drought assistance by establishing a new concessional loans scheme, available over 10 years.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the $2.5 billion new scheme would provide up to $250 million in loans each year nationally, and would be available for 10 years from 2016–17.

"We recognise the need for in-drought support for farm businesses that is both effective and fiscally responsible," Minister Joyce said.

"Our farmers contributed about $51 billion to our nation's economy in 2013–14. Stronger farm businesses mean a stronger economy—so supporting viable farm businesses to better manage through drought is in our national interest.

"The new scheme will complement—not replace—commercial finance, and will help farmers in the short-term when income is tight, so they can return to productive operation more quickly following drought.

"Loans will be available at a concessional interest rate for a term of up to ten years.
 
"We want to see concessional loans effectively and efficiently delivered, minimising red tape for farmers. We will be working with state and territory governments on the best way to deliver the new scheme.

"The new scheme will start in 2016–17. In this year's Budget we made a further $250 million available by extending the Drought and Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Schemes in 2015-16 to ensure farmers continue to have access to financial business support as a transitional arrangement to the new scheme.

"The new concessional loans scheme will be complemented by a range of other drought and risk management measures under the White Paper that will provide certainty and help drive long-term growth and prosperity by encouraging better preparedness.

"Drought preparedness, risk management and responsible in-drought support, better climate forecasting, more favourable tax deduction and depreciation arrangements, expanded social and community support measures, and local infrastructure projects to sustain rural communities through drought are all funded through the White Paper process.

"The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper fulfils our election commitment to undertake a process that listens and responds to the realities and challenges of life on the land.

"I'm pleased with the level of engagement this has generated and honoured to be delivering a once in a generation plan for agriculture to the Australian community."

The White Paper was informed by comprehensive stakeholder consultation—more than 1000 submissions were received and the government talked face-to-face with more than 1100 people across the country in developing this document. The White Paper is available at agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.