The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers) calls on the State Government to invest in the Rural Business Development Corporation (RBDC) to assist struggling farmers in Western Australia.
Many farmer meetings in the Wheatbelt have been calling for the State Government to put in place financial mechanisms that provide assistance to the rural sector, along the lines of the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA).
The QRAA administers assistance programs including subsidies, rebates, grants and loans on behalf of the Commonwealth and State Governments throughout Australia.
WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said Western Australia already has such a body, the RBDC, the replacement for the Rural Adjustment and Finance Corporation (RAFCOR).
“This body was established under the Rural Business Development Corporation Act 2000, which administers financial support for Approved Assistance Schemes on behalf of the State and Federal governments,” Mr Park said.
“The biggest issue I am hearing from farmer meetings is that carry-on finance is the key issue for farmers who may be agonising over whether to put this year’s crop in.
“What we need is an Approved Assistance Scheme that recognises the need for carry on finance for the agricultural sector.
“So the big question is we have an existing mechanism in the form of the RBDC, why isn’t it being utilised?”
The RBDC administers any ‘Approved Assistance Scheme’ – which is “any scheme that states the purpose and nature of financial assistance, identifies the categories of persons eligible for financial assistance and is approved by both the Minister and the Treasurer.”
Mr Park said now was the time for the State and Federal governments to step up and assist farmers with a scheme to help get them through the upcoming season.
“Farmers do not want a handout, they want a hand up,” he said.
“This is what our members are calling for, this could provide an alternative finance arrangement that will assist them through a tough period and now is the time for the State and Federal governments to act.
“The Premier has committed to cutting red tape, this is his first opportunity to do so by creating an Approved Assistance Scheme and reinvigorating the existing RBDC to assist the state’s farmers,” Mr Park concluded.