Queensland has been assured by the Federal Government that farmers would soon be able to access new financing arrangements under the Federal Government’s $320 million drought assistance package.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister John McVeigh said officers from his department and the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) had been working closely with their federal counterparts to activate the drought concessional loan scheme as a matter of top priority.
“We promised to grow agriculture as one of the four pillars of the economy and we are committed to assisting our producers through this tough time,” Mr McVeigh said.
“I sent officers to Canberra the Monday after the Wednesday 26 February announcement to begin these discussions, which should soon be finalised.
“Along with debt restructuring, the loans will be available to help with carry-on finance and recovery.
“The other key part of the package, which is currently being finalised by the Federal Government is social support and mental health assistance.
“This was a key point of discussion at the Mental Health Forum that Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and I convened in Charleville last week.
“We are also working to activate the pest animal control component of the scheme, which will be critical when the drought eventually breaks.”
QRAA acting CEO Tony O’Dea said in the meantime, the Federal government’s Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme was being successfully rolled-out in Queensland.
“In the first round, QRAA approved nearly all of the $20 million available in loans to 40 farm businesses,” Mr O’Dea said.
Mr O’Dea said the second application period had now been extended past the original closing date of March 30, with a further $30 million available. To date, 32 applications had been received, nine approved to the value of $7.77 million with a further 15 applications currently being assessed.
“I encourage producers to get their applications in as soon as possible,” he said.
“Farm businesses can apply for these loans which offer up to $1 million at the current interest rate of 4.5% for the purpose of restructuring up to half of their eligible debt.”
Mr McVeigh said the Queensland Government’s Drought Relief Assistance Scheme was also running at full speed, with more than $10 million now handed out.
Farmers who want to apply for drought relief assistance including the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate should contact the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on 13 25 23 or access the claim forms and applications at www.daff.qld.gov.au
Anyone interested in accessing concessional loans should contact QRAA on 1800 623 946 or visit www.qraa.qld.gov.au for loan application forms.