Farmers in Western NSW looking to better manage their finances after experiencing hardship attended various information sessions across the region last week to hear the latest information on drought loans.
Hosted by the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC), the workshops were held in Moree, Orange, Muswellbrook, Dubbo and Tamworth.
RIC’s farm business loans replace the federal concessional loans scheme delivered by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA). The RIC launched on July, 1, and the sessions are being delivered by interim CEO Matt Ryan.
Tottenham farmer George Greig attended the session and said he will be looking at one of the loans.
“There’s a huge loss of income (from the drought) and because of the extent of it, huge feed costs,” he said.
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“But we’ve maintained all of our breeding stock and had very good lambing and got the to the weaning stage… we’re grain feeding them three times a week.”
Mr Greig was sitting with his financial advisor at the session and said they’ll be getting together soon.
“When you look at the application form you think ‘what do they want us to say there?’, and that is the secret to it,” he said.
Geurie's Pip Job, who is the NSW Drought Coordinator was at the session in Dubbo and said it was really informative and important to be able to ask the “nitty grotty” questions.
“Because that’s the sort of questions farmers ask,” she said.
“It’s all those hard pressing questions, so if you’ve got the information at least you can give someone an answer.”
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Ms Job said knowing the eligibility criteria is essential because you don’t want to waste time.
“I’ve already had a question from someone who doesn’t have any debt, they’re in a very strong financial position and wanted to apply but they can’t because they won’t be eligible,” she said.
“But what I think was really fabulous to hear is that they (the RIC) are doing a case by case management model, which I think is essential…. it’s not just a ‘fix model’, it’s finding that balance.”
Ms Job said in terms of the drought people need to know what their options are.
“People need to think smart about what they’re options are. What leverages them to get through this drought, recover from it and move into the next adverse event before it comes,” she said.
RIC CEO Matt Ryan said they had a great turnout at Dubbo with about 40 people in attendance.
Mr Ryan said the hope to hold more sessions in the future.
“Awareness is our challenge,” he said.
“I think we’ve got a lot to offer people and we can really give them some breathing space with 3.58 per cent (the interest rate), so I think that’s the key, it’s a pretty good rate.
“But getting people familiar with what we offer is the challenge...”
Mr Ryan said they found with the sessions financial advisors come along with their clients.
“We certainly think we can help but we think it’s through the advisors, so it’s the banks, the accountants… the people that advise the farmers are just as important that they understand how we fit into the kaleidoscope of things…,” he said.
For more visit www.ric.gov.au/farmers/drought