3 September 2015
Drought-affected farmers in New South Wales can now apply for a Drought Concessional Loan or a Drought Recovery Concessional Loan, with applications opening today for the 2015–16 round of both schemes.
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, said the schemes helped those doing it tough during drought to restructure existing debt, or to fund operating expenses or drought preparedness and recovery activities.
“Through the Agricultural Competiveness White Paper, we are ensuring farmers have greater certainty about the support available to them during periods of drought. We are delivering on our White Paper commitment to continue both drought-related concessional loans schemes during 2015–16, with up to $30 million available for Drought Concessional Loans and up to $25 million available for Drought Recovery Concessional Loans in NSW,” Minister Joyce said.
“With concessional interest rates currently at 3.05 per cent for Drought Concessional Loans and 2.71 per cent for Drought Recovery Concessional Loans, these loan facilities represent the cheapest finance available to drought-affected farmers.
“Drought Concessional Loans are available for an interest-only term of five years, while Drought Recovery Concessional Loans are available for 10 years with interest-only repayments available for the first five years.
“Many parts of New South Wales remain impacted by drought, with areas in more than 30 Local Government Areas (LGAs) experiencing a 1 in 10 or a 1 in 20 year rainfall deficiency while parts of at least 14 LGAs – including Moree Plains, Walgett, Narrabri and others—have experienced historically low rainfall over the past two years.
“I’ve listened carefully to farmers about needing greater flexibility to include areas that have been very dry for a prolonged period, but don’t fall within areas that suffered the prescribed rainfall deficiency according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s maps. In response, I have introduced some flexibility to the eligibility criteria for the Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Scheme in 2015–16 to give more farm businesses the opportunity to access this important assistance.”
NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, welcomed the additional funding, which will help the State’s farmers prepare for future droughts and make long-term improvements to their businesses.
“There are some farm businesses in NSW still doing it extremely tough—I am glad they will now be able to apply for these additional assistance measures,” Mr Blair said.
“This builds on the NSW Government’s $300 million NSW Drought Strategy, which is unashamedly targeted at helping the farming sector to better prepare for and manage drought before it strikes, and is a record investment into on-farm preparedness and self-reliance.”
Minister Joyce said that 220 NSW farm businesses are already benefiting from the Australian Government’s concessional loans schemes with $121 million worth of loans already approved up to 31 July, 2015. In addition to concessional loans, almost 2,000 farmers or their partners in NSW have been granted income support through the Farm Household Allowance since the programme started on 1 July 2014.
“I strongly encourage any farmer thinking about applying for a concessional loan or any other assistance measure to talk to the experts and find out more about their options,” Minister Joyce said.
For more information on the range of Australian Government assistance for farmers, farm businesses and rural communities, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.
For information on the range of NSW Government measures available to farmers, as part of the NSW Drought Strategy, visitdpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/emergency/drought/support/nsw-drought-strategy.
To apply for the Drought and Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Schemes, visit raa.nsw.gov.au.