Farmers eligible for $20 million in Federal concessional drought loans have been put into further financial difficulty by delays to delivering the program, WAFarmers President Dale Park said today.
On March 21, WAFarmers met with Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and called for immediate action to be taken by the State government to ensure struggling farmers could access the drought assistance package as soon as possible.
“We are pleased to see these loans finally made available to those who require assistance,” Mr Park said.
“However, despite assurances that everything was being done to make these loans available promptly, we are now six months down the track and applications have only just opened.
“Had the loans been made available sooner, those in need could have put in crops, appropriately serviced their stock or crops, or substantially improved the operating conditions of their farm businesses.”
Mr Park said it was good to see the loans could be used to restructure existing debt, but there were still concerns about the eligibility of many in need considering the onus to prove substantial rainfall deficiency.
“While many of the areas of concern have had substantial dry periods or erratic rainfall, these are not often recognised through official rainfall data,” Mr Park said.
“I would encourage anyone who would benefit from these loans to apply, even if they are not certain of their eligibility, and not to self-assess.”
All media requests must be directed to WAFarmers Marketing and Communications Officer Leslee Hall on (08) 9486 2100 or [email protected].