In Agriculture

Federal Nationals Deputy Senate Leader Fiona Nash

Senate Estimates Reveal Farm Finance Program Poorly Planned

Victor P Taffa

The Labor government’s Farm Finance program is unfair and poorly targeted, according to Nationals Senator for NSW, Fiona Nash, following questioning of the Minister and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry during yesterday’s senate estimates.

 The program was announced in April, designed to help farmers get through stressful times largely caused by external factors such as the high dollar and dry conditions.

 It includes short-term concessional loans. But rather than ensuring this assistance is properly targeted, the government’s capped the assistance at $30 Million for each state and the Northern Territory.

 “This is despite there being a huge difference in the number of farmers per state. For example, there are about 43,000 farmers in NSW and only 522 in the Northern Territory[i],” Senator Nash told the Agriculture Minister, Senator Joe Ludwig, and department officials during senate estimates.”

 Senator Nash asked the Minister if the number of farmers per state and Territory were taken into account when announcing the program, in which he vaguely replied “it was a decision by the government”.

 “How do you explain to a farmer in NSW that they may miss out while the Northern Territory is awash with cash to help its significantly smaller number of farmers? It doesn’t make sense.” Senator Nash said.

 “While assistance for our farmers is needed, the Labor government once again rushes in a poorly planned policy that seems certain to exclude many farmers.” Senator Nash said.

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