$100 million new drought recovery loan announced

Beef Central, 04/12/2014

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, today announced targeted government assistance for drought-affected farmers in Queensland and New South Wales through the $100 million Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Scheme.

Minister Joyce said the government’s drought recovery loans would target farm businesses that are in need of financial assistance as a result of severe and protracted drought conditions. In Queensland, this scheme will also help those impacted by drought and the mid-2011 disruption to live cattle exports to Indonesia.

“Large parts of Queensland and some parts of New South Wales are experiencing the worst dry conditions on record, with rainfall at historical lows in many areas,” Minister Joyce said.

“The government has listened to farmers and what they’ve told us is that they need access to finance at a lower rate and for a longer term to rebuild their businesses from these dry conditions.

“We are experiencing an unprecedented demand for Australian agricultural produce from overseas so it is vitally important that, when the rain eventually comes, we can return to full production as soon as possible.

“These loans will help make that happen. They will fund planting and restocking activities that help farm businesses crippled by the effects of drought return to normal operations.”

Farm businesses will be able to apply for a loan up to $1 million over 10 years at a variable concessional interest rate initially set at 3.21 per cent.

These loan settings take into account the devastating impact that 1-in-50 or 1-in-100 year droughts have on farm businesses by offering longer loan terms and lower interest rates.

“In September, Treasurer Joe Hockey and I visited western New South Wales and south-west Queensland to see first-hand how devastating drought can be. Today’s announcement is one result of that visit,” Minister Joyce said.

“We listened to the concerns of producers. This government is committed to delivering the assistance needed on the ground and we are determined to stand by farmers in good times and bad.”

Minister Joyce thanked the Queensland and New South Wales governments for meeting the administrative costs associated with delivering the Drought Recovery Concessional Loans.

“I am finalising all the arrangements necessary to expedite the delivery of this assistance to those who need it most.”

Minister Joyce will be recommending to the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC the legislation for the new scheme.

The application guidelines will be available soon.

Drought Recovery Concessional Loans will build on the existing Farm Finance and Drought Concessional Loans Schemes, under which loans have already been approved to 286 farm businesses in Queensland and New South Wales, valued at over $150 million.


Boost for drought relief required, says NFF

Earlier today, the National Farmers Federation issued a statement saying the tough reality of prolonged drought facing many Australian farmers had prompted a call to boost drought assistance measures announced by the Federal Government earlier this year.

“We have been working with our Members to develop an updated drought assistance package in response to the hottest spring on record and deteriorating seasonal conditions across Australia,” NFF president Brent Finlay said.

“At the start of the year, the NFF called on the Federal Government to deliver a range of measures to assist drought-affected farmers, their families and communities. And while it was pleasing to see government deliver a short-term drought relief package, there’s now more to be done particularly given the rising debt levels in certain regions.

“Specifically, we are seeking lower interest loans with longer terms; reduced paperwork for Farm Household Allowance; certainty of funding for the Rural Financial Counsellors; and additional funding for water infrastructure and pest animal control.

“These measures will not only assist farmers while in drought, but will help them recover and quickly ramp up production when the rains do come.

“In the current environment, a small level of government assistance for many otherwise solid, profitable businesses would ensure they can respond quickly and effectively once seasons turn around in their favour.

“Beyond this, long-term drought policy is still missing in action. We need a drought policy framework that focuses on preparedness but also recognises that in-event and recovery support is sometimes needed,” Mr Finlay said.

  • NFF’s full policy paper Boosting drought relief: measures to improve agricultural competitiveness is available here.


Source: Minister for Agriculture, NFF. More information on the scheme will be available soon. Information on existing assistance for farmers and farming businesses is available online, at agriculture.gov.au/drought.


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