Following much-needed rainfall, more good news has arrived for Queensland’s drought-affected farmers. A new drought assistance program is now available through QRAA, providing farm businesses with up to $1 million and an interest rate of just 2.47 per cent.
Drought Assistance Concessional Loans, launched on 1 November 2016, replaces and builds on the best of previous drought assistance schemes. Previous loan schemes focussed on restructuring debt or investing in recovery activities, but now there is a single loan that can help businesses who are still struggling to overcome harsh conditions or are on the road to recovery.
QRAA Chief Executive Officer, Cameron MacMillan, says this means an improved product and simplified process for eligible primary producers.
“Applicants can now access up to $1 million under a single scheme, to carry out any combination of refinancing, covering operating costs, restocking and replanting and drought-preparedness projects,” he said.
“In short, it is now easier for Queensland’s primary producers who have been financially impacted by this drought to seek the assistance they need.”
An initial allocation of $35 million will be available to Queensland farm businesses under the new loan, which has loan terms of up to 10 years. Interest-only payments are available for the first five years.
Mr MacMillan says that recent rain and improving conditions may lead some producers to believe they are ineligible for the assistance, but urges them not to self-assess.
“You do not need to be in a drought-declared area or only recently received drought-breaking rains to benefit from this loan,” he said.
“If you have suffered financially as a result of the drought, contact us and start the conversation – you may be surprised. You no longer need to be inside a line on a map.”
Since 2014, QRAA has approved over $149 million in drought assistance to Queensland’s affected farm businesses.
One farmer who has already accessed this assistance is Burdekin canegrower Phil Marano.
Mr Marano accessed a drought loan from QRAA in early 2016, and strongly recommends others partner with QRAA to reduce the financial pressures of drought.
“I’ve been spreading the word to others in the region about the benefits of drought loans from QRAA and encouraging them to speak with QRAA about their refinancing options,” he said.
Producers are urged to contact one of QRAA’s eight regionally based Client Liaison Officers who can guide them through the process and answer any questions.
“Peter Crowley [CLO for North Queensland] was great to deal with,” Mr Marano said. “He provided all the information I needed and it was helpful to have someone in the region I could meet with about my application.”
Producers can find more information and start the application process by visiting www.qraa.qld.gov.au.
Drought Assistance Concessional Loans are delivered by QRAA on behalf of the Australian Government in Queensland.