Australian Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food, Ken Baston, said ensuring farmers in Western Australia had access to these loans was a priority.
Minister Joyce said $20 million in drought concessional loans is now available in Western Australia.
“I am pleased that eligible WA farmers will be able to apply for these loans from today,” Minister Joyce said.
“Drought concessional loans of up to $1 million or up to 50 per cent of eligible debt, whichever is lower, will be available to eligible farm businesses at an initial rate of four per cent for a five year period.”
To be eligible for drought concessional loans, a WA farm business must be experiencing a 1 in 20 year drought event, or a 1 in 10 year drought event that has caused significant financial impact. Applicants must submit a valid Bureau of Meteorology ‘Rainfall Deficiency Report’ as part of their Application.
Drought concessional loans will be available for:
Debt restructuring: applicants can use the concessional loan to restructure a proportion of their existing eligible debt at a lower interest rate.
Operating expenses: applicants can use the concessional loan to fund operating expenses that are necessary to continue the normal operations of the farm business.
Drought recovery and preparedness activities: applicants can use loan funds to contribute to the cost of activities to recover from and prepare for future drought.
Minister Joyce said that these drought concessional loans were in addition to other forms of federal support available to WA farmers such as Farm Finance concessional loans, Farm Household Allowance as well as rural financial counselling services.
Minister Baston said the Rural Business Development Corporation is geared up to deliver the loans.
“Drought concessional loans will allow eligible farm businesses to restructure their existing debt at a lower interest rate and provide finance to meet their ongoing business running costs and drought recovery and preparedness activities,” Minister Baston said.
“The loans are for a term of five years over which interest only payments are required.
“At the end of the loan period, farmers will have the option of refinancing the remaining amount with a commercial lender, or repaying the loan in full.”
Farm businesses are strongly encouraged not to self assess their eligibility for a loan and to contact the Rural Business Development Corporation to find out more about the scheme and what is required to apply.