$30 million for concessional loans in Victoria

Farm businesses in Victoria rebuilding from the downturn in dairy prices and drought in 2016 will benefit from an additional $30 million in concessional loans funding from the Federal Government.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, Member for Murray, Damian Drum, and Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, announced additional funding under the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme had now been made available, due to strong demand.

“Our Farm Business Concessional Loans enable farmers to refinance existing debt, fund normal operations, and bankroll activities to increase productivity to build their businesses back up,” Federal Minister Joyce said.

“There are two loan types, Drought Assistance for drought–affected farm businesses, and Dairy Recovery concessional loans to assist eligible farmers affected by the decisions of Murray Goulburn, Fonterra, and National Dairy Products to retrospectively reduce farm gate milk prices.

“The Dairy Assistance Package is having a strong positive impact in Victoria, where more than $84 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans have been approved to assist 156 dairy farm businesses.

“We have made available $250 million in concessional loans funding nationally this financial year (2017-18) to assist farmers to rebuild their businesses following drought and retrospective farmgate milk price cuts, part of a $2.5 billion, 10–year commitment to concessional loans.

“In the 2017–18 Budget, the Federal Government announced it will extend concessional loan eligibility to farmers who have exhausted their full three year entitlement to the Farm Household Allowance and can use this support to continue improving their long term financial strength.

“Supporting viable farm businesses is firmly in our national interest, which is why the Federal Government is delivering on its commitment to establish the Regional Investment Corporation in the 2017–18 Budget.

“The RIC will administer the Federal Government’s remaining $2 billion investment in concessional loans from 2018–19, as well as the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility.

“Until the RIC is fully operational in July 2018, it is intended that Victorian farm businesses will be able to continue to apply for concessional loans through Rural Finance.”

The Member for Murray, Damian Drum, said take–up of the loans showed they were a valuable product for local farm businesses working to return to viability.

“The Goulburn Valley is a proud dairy region, with 1040 dairy farms, accounting for 36 per cent of all farms in the region, and 22 per cent of all dairy farms in Victoria.

“Rural Finance told us the $70 million already allocated for concessional loans in Victoria is not enough, with significant applications from dairy farmers, and we acted.”

Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, said that concessional loans were a key measure of the Federal Government’s Dairy Support Package.

“I hosted several roundtables across regional Victoria, including in Congupna, to discuss the Federal Government’s package, and current issues impacting the dairy industry, and continued access to loans was important to dairy farmers.

“Concessional loans are an important tool for local farmers doing it tough and despite recent announcements from Murray Goulburn and Fonterra, we know there are many dairy farmers still feeling the effects of 2016’s events.”

To find out more about concessional loans in Victoria please contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit ruralfinance.com.au.

For more information on the range of Australian Government assistance for farmers, farm businesses, and rural communities, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.