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Australia: Drought stricken NT farmers given loan lifeline

Cattle producers in the Northern Territory can now apply for an Australian Government drought concessional loan.

Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, and NT Minister for Primary Industry Willem Westra van Holthe, today announced $10 million in drought concessional loans and are encouraging primary producers in the NT to apply.

“It’s great to see this program rolled out nationally, especially for farm businesses in the NT who have been battling against drought,” Mr Joyce said.

“Drought concessional loans of up to $1 million or up to 50 per cent of eligible debt, whichever is lower, will be available to eligible farm businesses at an initial rate of 4 per cent for a five-year period.” 

To be eligible for drought concessional loans, an NT farm business must be experiencing a one-in-20-year drought event, or a one-in-10-year drought event that has caused significant financial impact.

Applicants must submit a valid Bureau of Meteorology ‘Rainfall Deficiency Report’ as part of their application.

Drought concessional loans will be available for either debt restructuring or new lending for drought preparedness/recovery activities. 

Mr Joyce says that these drought concessional loans are in addition to other forms of Australian Government support available to NT farmers, such as Farm Finance concessional loans and Farm Household Allowance. 

Mr Westra van Holthe says the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) is set to deliver the loans on behalf of the NT.

“Drought concessional loans will allow eligible farm businesses to restructure their existing debt at a lower interest rate,” Mr Westra van Holthe said.

“This will provide critical finance to meet ongoing costs of running a farm business, as well as drought recovery and preparedness activities. 

“The loans are for a term of five years over which interest only payments are required.

“At the end of the loan period, farmers will have the option of refinancing the remaining amount with a commercial lender, or repaying the loan in full.”

Farm businesses are strongly encouraged not to self-assess their eligibility for a loan, but to contact the NT Department of Primary Industry to find out more about the program and what is required to apply.

– Weatherzone/ABC


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