A NEW Drought Finance Taskforce has been established to leverage the resources of banks, government and farm representative groups as part of ongoing efforts to support drought-affected farmers and rural and regional small businesses.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will chair the taskforce with Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud as deputy chair. Taskforce members will include drought special envoy Barnaby Joyce, Southern Queensland MP and former Qld state ag minister John McVeigh, along with representatives from the NFF, ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank, Rabobank and Westpac.
A Federal Government statement said the taskforce will consider and respond to the impact of the drought on local small businesses as well as farmers.
NFF president Fiona Simson said good drought policy was about building farmer resilience by creating the risk management tools needed at different stages of the agricultural business cycle, including drought.
“The NFF sees the taskforce as playing an important role in assessing the effectiveness of existing risk management tools, identifying improvements and bringing about change,” she said.
“Bringing banks, the Government and farmer representatives together on a regular basis will provide a vital forum for taking the pulse of rural communities managing drought.”
The taskforce will consider real-time information flows on the financial health of drought impacted areas, and enable rapid responses to critical areas of need, the NFF said.
The government said the taskforce will:
- leverage government, business and industry resources in rural and regional communities to further determine the impact that the drought has had or is having on farmers and local small businesses;
- establish mechanisms to share insights in a timely manner; and
- advise the Government, bank CEOs and the NFF on drought impacts as well as further measures that could help alleviate the impact on farmers and local small businesses.
The establishment of the taskforce follows the drought roundtable held by Mr Littleproud in early July at which banks and farm groups discussed financial literacy issues and farm management deposits.
The government said it continues to prioritise regional and rural communities affected by the drought, as demonstrated by the expansion of the $1.8 billion Drought Assistance Package.
Source: Federal Government