Anita Joshi, Australia : More than $502 million, or half a billion dollars, has been approved under the concessional loans schemes to support farm businesses who are doing it tough due to drought and more recently the downturn in dairy prices.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the Coalition Government administered loans are providing essential support to the 957 farm businesses across Australia that have been approved for a loan and are in need.
“Drought is a significant challenge for our farmers and the situation facing the dairy industry, following the retrospective price cuts by dairy processors, has led to great number of farmers in need of assistance to recover from financial shocks to their businesses,” Minister Joyce said.
“The concessional loans provide lower interest rates and give businesses the ability to access funds, which helps them restructure existing debt, fund operating expenses and undertake preparedness and recovery activities.
“The Coalition Government has proven we are committed to delivering for farmers with a strong track record of practical support when and where it’s needed most.
“It is clear concessional loans are valued by farmers due to the high take up level. This comes in stark contrast to the lack of support for farmers from Labor, who approved a mere 8 concessional loans when they were last in government, scrapped Exceptional Circumstances assistance and gutted the Department of Agriculture.
“From November this year, the Coalition Government is providing a further $250 million in concessional loans funding for 2016–17, as part of a $2.5 billion investment in loans over ten years in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
“I have written to my state and Northern Territory colleagues to seek their support for the delivery of the 2016–17 scheme which is to be available from 1 November.
“Currently the Coalition works with state delivery agencies across Australia to monitor take-up and recently agreed to provide an additional $15 million in Drought Concessional Loans and $20 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans to Victoria, subject to the Victorian Government accepting the offer.
“To ensure assistance continues to be available to drought-stricken farmers in Queensland, with almost half of all approved concessional loans nationally this year coming from the state, an additional $10 million in Drought Concessional Loans and $5 million for Drought Recovery Concessional Loans has been made available to Queensland.
“I do have concerns about the efficiencies of negotiating with the jurisdictions to deliver the loans and am moving to establish a $4.5 billion Regional Investment Corporation (RIC). The RIC will be tasked with administering Commonwealth drought, dairy and water infrastructure loans programmes consistently nation-wide to fast-track delivery.
“Despite recent widespread rainfall, there are still large parts of drought-affected regions where it will take time for farmers to recover that will meet the loan’s rainfall deficiency criteria. I strongly encourage those thinking of applying for a concessional loan or any other assistance to explore their options and not self-assess their eligibility.”
Further details about the loans are available from the state government delivery agencies.
For more information on the range of Coalition Government assistance for farmers, farm businesses and rural communities, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.
- Drought Concessional Loans are available at 3.05 per cent for an interest-only term of five years.
- Drought Recovery and Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans are available 2.66 per cent, for 10 year loan terms with interest-only repayments available for the first five years.
- This year $250 million in concessional loans funding is available from 1 November—this is funding from the Ag White Paper commitment for $2.5 billion over ten years.