Victorian farmers can now access the Commonwealth's $30 million Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans through Rural Finance, after the caretaker Coalition government finally provided the necessary documentation.
While the Commonwealth loans were announced in late May, the final draft loan agreement and guidelines were only provided to Victoria in recent days.
Based on current loan products, it is likely the $30 million funding pool will provide support to only 70 of Victoria's 4300 dairy farms.
While welcome, it is a far cry from what Victorian farmers deserve.
Under the arrangements, only farmers supplying Murray Goulburn and Fonterra during the 2015/16 milk season will be able to access the Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans scheme.
This means one in five Victorian dairy farmers will be ineligible – even though the expected lower opening price for the next year will impact those supplying all processors.
The loan scheme may also disadvantage share farmers, who are usually younger farmers and may not meet the credit requirements for these types of loans.
The Coalition needs to explain why it has removed the financial hardship test for the Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans, which prioritises loans towards those who are in greatest financial need.
They should also reconsider the interest rate they are offering and confirm what funds will be available after 31 October.
The Andrews Labor Government has partnered with the dairy industry to deliver an $11.4 million support package for our farmers doing it tough.
We continue to work closely with the dairy industry so practical help, advice and mental health support is available to farmers when they need it.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford
"Our dairy industry has a bright future, but they’ve been dealt a cruel blow.”
"We are doing all we can to listen and consult closely with farmers to get them back on their feet.”
"This is about getting the best deal we can for Victorian dairy farmers so our farmers can access all the support they need.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020