$1 billion drought package for hard-hit farmers and rural communities


Beef Central (Australia)

November 7, 2019


DROUGHT-hit farmers, small businesses and rural towns are set for a $1 billion cash injection to keep stock fed and watered, keep businesses open, keep locals in work and pump funds into local economies.


As part of a $1 billion drought stimulus package announced earlier today, the Federal Government plans to overhaul the Regional Investment Corporation’s funding rules. Under the plan, loans of up to $2 million under the RIC would be offered to farmers under a reconfigured 10-year payback schedule.


Key features of the new package are:


·         Making new and existing drought loans for farmers interest-free for two years, so they purchase fodder, pay for freight and pay their farm hands. Years three to five will be interest only payment and years six to ten will be interest and principal. The current scheme prescribes that the first five years are interest only payments, and interest and principal payments for the balance of the loan term

·         A new program for small businesses dependent on agriculture with loans worth up to $500,000 that can be used to pay staff, buy equipment and refinance. It follows the same new payment scheme as the Drought Loans for farmers

·         $10 million to support schools facing financial hardship as a result of ongoing drought conditions, including fee concessions for boarding students


The loans would be available to farmers to provide feed, water, freight and stock for their businesses, or anything that might keep their operations going.


The Prime Minister said the Coalition Government’s next step of measures to combat the drought’s impact was ready to flow.


“We are stepping up our drought response to meet the increasing needs as the drought’s effects also step up,” the Prime Minister said.


“Since the budget we have already committed an additional $355 million to step up our drought response. Today’s announcement triples this to more than $1 billion since the election, as well as more than $1 billion in new interest free loans, to see people through.”


“This is money into the pockets of all those farmers and graziers who know they have a future, but are currently struggling to keep their operations running as the crippling effects of this drought continue to bite that we’ve heard from out on the ground. They are backing themselves and we are backing them to make it through to the better days that will be ahead.


Mr Morrison said it was not only farmers doing it tough in drought...