Media Release National Farmers Federation
11 July 2013
The Federal Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, has today announced that Queensland farmers will be the first to benefit from the Federal Government’s Farm Finance package, with Queensland the first state to sign up to the deal.
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) welcomed today’s announcement, but urged the Federal and Queensland Governments to quickly finalise the administrative arrangements needed to allow farmers to access the payments.
“Today’s announcement is a step forward in getting the Government’s Farm Finance payments to where they are needed: to farmers who are struggling with drought and debt, and we thank Minister Fitzgibbon and his Queensland counterpart, Minister McVeigh, for pushing forward this outcome,” said NFF Vice President Brent Finlay.
“The situation in some parts of Queensland is grim, with some 40 percent of the state now in drought, a relatively high Australian dollar and the ongoing impacts of the livestock export suspension making it extremely difficult for some farmers, particularly northern beef producers.
“Today’s announcement means these farmers will have access to concessional loans of up to $650,000 to help manage their debt.
“But there is still much work to be done. While we welcome the detail today that the loans will be managed and administered through the Queensland Rural Assistance Authority, the structure is not yet in place to allow the funds to get to farmers.
“We urge the respective governments to finalise the structures and programs they need to administer these funds. It has now been 11 weeks since the Federal Government announced the Farm Finance package, but not a single cent has yet been passed on to farmers in need. It is critical that these funds get to where they are needed most.
“And it is critical that these funds are also now made available to farmers in all other States and Territories. It is positive to see that the Rudd Government has agreed to contribute to the cost of administering the loans in Queensland – which has been one of the stumbling blocks for getting all the States and Territories signed up to the program.
“We hope that this offer will now be extended to all other jurisdictions, and that the various State and Territory Governments will also sign on to the package. Farmers are facing difficult conditions in areas right across Australia, and it is essential that all farmers have access to this assistance,” Mr Finlay said.
Mr Finlay is today in Emerald with Minister Fitzgibbon, Minister McVeigh and NFF members AgForce Queensland and the Cattle Council of Australia.