Media Release​​

Apply now for drought concessional loans in WA

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
WA Minister for Agriculture and Food, Dean Nalder


12 April 2016​

Western Australia’s drought-affected farmers can now apply for Drought Concessional Loans under the 2015–16 round of the scheme.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agricultur​e and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and WA Minister for Agriculture and Food, Dean Nalder, said Drought Concessional Loans allowed farmers doing it tough because of drought to restructure existing debt, fund their operating expenses or undertake drought preparedness and recovery activities.

“In 2015–16, the Australian Government is making $10 million in loans available to WA farmers to help them deal with the effects of drought,” Minister Joyce said.

“Drought is one of the most significant challenges our farmers face and we are committed to delivering practical support when it’s most needed. 

“Under the Coalition’s $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, we are empowering farmers to manage through drought by delivering low interest loans that can be tailored to the needs of individual businesses.

“We have also committed up to $250 million nationally each year for a new, more flexible and streamlined concessional loans product that will be available for 10 years from 2016–17.”

Minister Nalder said since the concessional loans scheme opened in January 2014, 50 concessional loans have been approved at a value of more than $17 million.

“This assistance makes a material difference to farmers at a time when they need it most,” Minister Nalder said. 

Minister Joyce said a range of assistance was available to farmers in drought, and strongly encouraged those thinking of applying for a concessional loan or any other assistance measure to explore their options.

“The Farm Household Allowance (FHA) provides financial support to farm families to help them get through periods of hardship. The Government is paying out $1.35 million per week on average in FHA assistance and so far 134 claims have been granted to farmers in Western Australia,” Minister Joyce said. 

“The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) provides free financial counselling to farm businesses, small agriculture-dependent rural businesses, foresters and fishers who are suffering financial hardship and have no other source of impartial financial information. 

“An additional $90,000 has been allocated this financial year to RFCS WA to meet any increase in demand from farmers battling drought conditions. Some 380 clients have accessed the service in WA between 1 July 2015 and 31 March 2016.

“We are also delivering on extra measures under the Agriculture White Paper to strengthen our approach to drought and risk management, including providing $2,500 grants to assist farmers with upfront costs of selecting and applying for agricultural insurance products. 

“A dedicated ATO hotline has also been established to provide advice to taxpayers in drought-affected areas, with more than 16,000 calls from around Australia already made to this service.”

To find out more about Drought Concessional Loans in WA, visit www.agric.wa.gov.au/rbdc​.

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.