Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said expanding the Farm Finance concessional loans to include debt restructuring introduced the sort of flexibility that farmers had been calling for and will provide another option for Western Australian farming businesses experiencing drought conditions.
“We listened to farmers across WA about what they need to help them through, and that’s why we worked with the Western Australian Government to expand the loan conditions for the $25 million that is available under this second round of Farm Finance loans.
“The loans can now also be used for debt restructuring, in addition to productivity enhancement, or a combination of these two purposes – helping farm businesses in the short-term to improve their financial capabilities and profitability into the future,” Minister Joyce said.
Minister Joyce said the total loan amount available had also increased to $1 million, with the productivity enhancement activity component remaining at between $50,000 and $400,000.
“Farm finance loans help farm businesses that are experiencing debt-servicing difficulties but are considered viable in the longer term, giving farmers breathing space while managing debt.
“I urge all farmers not to self-assess but to talk to the experts about their options and eligibility – there are a range of state and federal programmes available to assist farmers doing it tough now,” Minister Joyce said.
WA Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said he was aware that some businesses in the eastern Wheatbelt were not able to apply for the Drought Concessional Loans Scheme as they did not farm within the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) rainfall deficiency areas.
“The broadening of the FFCLS will enable those not farming in a BoM rainfall deficiency area to apply for a concessional interest rate loan with a debt restructuring component,” Mr Baston said.
Farm businesses must be in at least one of following industries including broadacre, pastoral, horticulture, dairy, intensive agriculture and aquaculture, and be based in WA, to apply for the FFCLS.
A total of $25 million is available under the second and final round of the FFCLS. Loans are interest-only at the concessional rate, with principal repayment at the end of the loan term. Applications for the FFCLS close on 30 April 2015.
The Drought Concessional Loans Scheme is also operating in Western Australia, which provides concessional loans of up to to 50 per cent of total eligible debt, to a maximum of $1 million, if they farm within a BoM rainfall deficiency area. Applications for the DCLS close on 30 June 2015.
For more information on eligibility criteria, loans terms and how to apply, contact the Rural Business Development Corporation (RBDC) on www.agric.wa.gov.au/rbdc or by calling the Freecall information line on 1800 198 231.