Media Release

​Drought Concessional Loans now open for Tasmanian businesses

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff


27 January 2016

Tasmanian farmers affected by drought will be able to apply for a Drought Concessional Loan from Wednesday. 

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff, said $10 million in Drought Concessional Loans would be available to eligible Tasmanian farm businesses struggling with the effects of drought.

“These loans can be used to restructure existing debt, or to fund operating expenses or drought preparedness and recovery activities,” Minister Joyce said.

“The loan interest rate—of 3.05 per cent—represents one of the cheapest finance options available with up to $1 million available to individual drought-affected farm businesses.

"The Coalition Government's drought concessional loan scheme is an improved, better targeted and timelier policy response to drought for Tasmanian farmers than the former Exceptional Circumstances which required a lengthy drought declaration processes including an assessment as to whether there had been two failed seasons."

Minister Rockliff said the loan scheme is one of a number of initiatives announced by the Government to assist farmers doing it tough.

“We recognise many Tasmanian farmers are facing significant challenges and many are experiencing drought, that’s why we are continuing to assist them with initiatives like the $10 million loan scheme,” Minister Rockliff said.

“From Wednesday, eligible farm businesses will be able to gain a lower interest rate on, for example, a portion of what they owe, or to buy fodder or cart water, or for future proofing by investing in irrigation.

“This is in addition to $2.27 million in initiatives we announced in November to assist farmers, and also a further $180,000 in financial and emotional support we announced earlier this month, including $70,000 to Rural Alive and Well to employ an additional counsellor.

“The most important message for Tasmanian farmers right now is, we’re here to help.

“I urge those who are interested in the loan scheme to seek advice. You can talk to the Rural Financial Counselling Service or the Department of State Growth to explore your options.”

Minister Joyce said Australia’s farmers made an important contribution to the nation’s economy and to the Australian way of life; however drought has historically been one of the most significant challenges faced by our farmers.

“This is why the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper invests $2.97 billion in practical, appropriate and tangible support for farmers to manage risk and prepare for drought and give them greater certainty about what support will be provided,” Minister Joyce said.

“Investing in better drought preparedness and risk management is an investment in our nation’s future prosperity and the stability of our rural communities.

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

The Australian Government is already delivering on several other key drought and hardship support and risk management measures for Tasmanian farmers under the Ag White Paper, including:
  • ​establishing a dedicated ATO hotline (13 11 42, select Option 3) to provide advice to drought-affected taxpayers—more than 11,000 calls have already been made to this service
  • investing $3.3 million in a Bureau of Meteorology project to give farmers more localised, more accurate and more frequent seasonal forecasts—work has already commenced on the implementation of a new forecasting model and consultations are underway with users on their needs from the improved service
For more information on the range of Australian Government assistance for farmers, farm businesses and rural communities, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.

Application Forms and Guidelines for the Drought Concessional Loan Scheme will be available on 1800 440 026 or visit www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au​ from 9am Wednesday 27 January 2016.