Second Round of Farm Finance applications open for Tasmanian Farmers

Joint media release from the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck; and Tasmanian Deputy Premier and Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff.

Tasmanian farm businesses can apply for the second round of the Australian Government's Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme from August 11 2014.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the first phase opened in January and generated $5.5 million in approved loan funding.

"The Australian Government is providing up to $15 million in 2014-15 for the provision of concessional loans to eligible farm businesses in Tasmania," Minister Joyce said.

"This government made a national commitment to help viable farm businesses in need of support."

"We are delivering on that promise and I am very pleased to see the eligibility for round two has been broadened to allow farmers to access loans for both productivity enhancement and debt restructuring purposes, capped at $650,000 per applicant."

Senator for Tasmania and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, described the opening of the second round as good news for local industry.

"Concessional loans for productivity enhancement activities aim to support eligible farm businesses to implement systems and management practices that enhance sustainable primary production in Tasmania," Senator Colbeck said.

"The loans for debt restructuring are to refinance farm business related debt that has been established upon commercial interest rates and terms and conditions."

"These are extremely important initiatives designed to enhance productivity and ensure the long-term contribution agriculture makes to the state's bottom line."

Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff, said the concessional loans were available for loan terms of up to five years at a variable concessional interest rate (currently set at 4.5 per cent per annum).

"Following round one there are now 11 farm businesses here in Tasmania that have been provided assistance to manage their debts or to enhance productivity on their property. This will assist them to remain viable in the long term. We are confident that further assistance can be provided to farm business owners in Round 2," Minister Rockliff said.

"I am pleased that Minister Joyce has supported us in making the scheme more flexible, more attractive and more responsive to the needs of Tasmanian farmers. Agriculture businesses will now be able to access a combination of Productivity Enhancement Loans and Debt Restructuring capped at $650,000 in total."

"To assist applicants and people interested in obtaining further information and understanding as to whether their business may be eligible, the Farmer Liaison Officer program will continue to be provided through the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association."

Farmers can obtain more information on eligibility criteria and the application process by calling the Farmer Liaison Officers on Freecall 1800 154 111 (within Tasmania) or visiting the Department of State Growth website: www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au

Rural Financial Counsellors are also available to assist farm businesses that are suffering from financial hardship and need assistance completing application forms and business plans. Farmers can call the service on 1800 883 276.

JOYCE COLBECK ROCKLIFF MR Farm Finance Tasmania
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