Farm funding still available

Finance. Time is running out for local farmers to apply for loans of up to $650,000 over five years to support potentially viable long-term projects.

While the second round of the Australian Government’s Farm Finance Concessional Loan Scheme officially closes on April 30 next year, a cap of $15 million in total has been provided for the initiative, meaning it will finish once the limit has been reached.

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association is pushing for local farmers to consider taking advantage of the national scheme, providing two farm finance liaison officers to assist individual operations with the funding available.

“This is not just for farmers that are in trouble [financially],” TFGA chief executive Jan Davis said.

“The loans vary according to what the farmers want to do. What we’ve really been focusing on is the gap the bank won’t finance.”

The scheme, administered by the Department of State Growth in Tasmania, aims to assist farm businesses to implement systems and management practices that will enhance sustainable primary production.

Ms Davis said while states such as Queensland and New South Wales have been focusing on restructuring debt, Tasmania’s improved situation means the focus of the scheme is slightly altered.

“Because things haven’t been quite so tough, the objective has been to improve farm productivity,” she said.

Projects suitable for a loan may include expansion of operations; diversification of farm business; purchase and upgrade of equipment; or the purchase of livestock for long-term improvement to farm productivity.

Ms Davis gave an example of a Tasmanian farmer who, in applying for a loan, was looking to expand his operation beyond sheep farming to include the production of strawberries.

The initial interest rate for the loan is 4.5 per cent, and interest-only payments are available for up to five years.

For more information, contact the TFGA on 1800 154 111 or email farmfinance@tfga.com.au.

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