Confidence is returning to Australia’s live export trade following the faster-than expected resumption of exports to Indonesia and the Government’s strong commitment to the future of the industry in the wake of the Farmer review.
However Australia’s peak rural banking representative group says that despite the improving conditions, it will take affected businesses a long time to recover from the impact of the ban.
Australian Bankers’ Association policy director Stephen Carroll said that while trade had resumed to Indonesia, the impact of the temporary suspension of trade on customers’ businesses had been significant.
“For many it will take a number of seasons for their businesses to recover,” Mr Carroll said.
An interest rate subsidy announced in August by agriculture minister Joe Ludwig on loans of up to $300 000 and grants of up to $5500 for financial advice was helping to provide those businesses affected by the ban wo borrow the working capital they needed to recover. The loans provide an 8pc interest rate subsidy in the first year and a 4pc subsidy in the second year.
Mr Carroll said the banking industry was also pleased the Government had extended the assistance to all businesses affected by the live cattle ban such as transporters, heli-musterers and agents.
He urged customers who were worried about their financial position to contact their bank.
Each customer request would be considered on case-by-case basis, he said, but added that a diverse range of loan options and risk management tools existed to suit individual business structures and conditions.
Nigel Stewart from Westpac Agribusiness told Beef Central that the lending environment did not change significantly as a result of the ban from the bank’s perspective.
When the ban was enforced Westpac made a live export industry assistance package available to affected clients which included loan restructuring without usual fees, emergency credit card limit increases, refinanced personal loans at discounted fixed interest rates, waived interest penalties for affected customers wishing to withdraw term deposits and fast-tracked general insurance assessments and decisions.
“We provided a cattle assistance package to clients that were affected, but the strength of the overall industry and the actual producers working together with others and with us underpinned why the turnaround was so quickly capitalised on, from our point of view,” said Mr Stewart, Manager Agribusiness Segment, Westpac.