The Western Australia Farmers Federation Inc (WAFarmers) is extremely concerned a financial lifeline for farmers from the Federal Government could get caught up in State Government red tape.
The Federal Government’s Farm Finance package would offer farmers concessional loans of up to $650,000 over two years, then at market interest rates for the 20-year life of the loan to help them restructure debt and invest in productivity.
It was envisaged that the State Government would partner with the Federal Government by providing in kind support including administering the loans, plus application and processing costs through the Rural Business Development Corporation (RBDC).
On Monday, WAFarmers called for the State Government to partner the Federal Government as a matter of urgency and ensure this process does not get bound up with Federal and State Government red tape. WAFarmers also urged the State Government to put adequate resources into the RBDC to ensure the efficient and timely roll out of the Farm Finance measures.
WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said WAFarmers had written to the Premier, Hon Colin Barnett, and he had contacted Agriculture Minister, Hon Ken Baston, to compel them to support the package and offering the Federation’s assistance.
“The Premier’s office has not responded,” Mr Park said.
“It would appear their public responses to date suggest a misunderstanding of the Federal package. The only word from the State Government appears to be it is concerned about taking on the liability for bad loans and the costs of administration.
“This is Federal Government funding, so if the loans cannot be repaid, the risk is the Federal Government’s. The only involvement the State Government has is administering the loans and the cost of the administration process.”
Mr Park said WAFarmers is investigating options for administering the funding package outside of Western Australia.
“The Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) does have the ability to administer programs outside of Queensland and we are investigating the possibility they could administer the scheme in Western Australia so our farmers can access the funds,” Mr Park concluded.