| May 13, 2017

An extra $30 million for concessional loans in Victoria

• An additional $30 million in Farm Business Concessional Loans is now available for Victorian farm businesses to 30 June 2017.
• $100 million has now been allocated to Victoria since the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme began on 1 November 2016.
• 156 Victorian dairy farmers have been approved over $84 million in Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans, as at 31 March 2017.

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

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, Member for Murray, Damian Drum, and Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, today 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,” 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 over the past year 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 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 Coalition 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 government is delivering on its commitment to establish the Regional Investment Corporation in the 2017–18 Budget.

“The RIC will administer the 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 government’s Dairy Support Package.

“I hosted several roundtables across regional Victoria, including in Congupna, to discuss the 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 the past year’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

Fast facts:
• The Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme is a key initiative of the Coalition Government’s $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
• Nationally, 1243 farm businesses have been approved for concessional loans products worth $664 million across all concessional loan schemes.
• In Victoria, 388 farm businesses have been approved for concessional loans products worth over $188 million across all schemes.
• Farm Business Concessional Loans have an initial variable concessional interest rate of 2.47 per cent for a maximum term of 10 years. Interest-only repayments are available for the first five years of the loan term, with principal and interest repayments for the next five years.
• Our farmers contribute almost $64 billion to our nation's economy.

Media enquiries:
Deputy Prime Minister: 0491 222 306
Mr Drum: 0417 817 623
Senator McKenzie: 0438 066 825

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