Time for better interest rate options?

Maybe the government's bulldust would be better used as fertiliser?


Opinion
The smaller farmers appear to be left to wither on the vine under current drought policy, says Mal Peters.

The smaller farmers appear to be left to wither on the vine under current drought policy, says Mal Peters.

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When you pull the curtains back the tardiness of the government's drought assistance is pretty clear, writes Mal Peters.

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WHEN farmers put a mob of cattle in a feedlot during the drought they get a massive accumulation of bull dust on the ground, not unlike the federal government’s response to this exceptional circumstance drought.

Bulldust can promote new growth if used as fertiliser.

However, the government’s drought policy is doing the opposite and in the process failing to help producers preserve the core of their breeding herds.

The Australian Government appears to have geared all its drought policies around helping the bigger farmers and letting the smaller ones wither on the vine.

The appointment of the national drought co-ordinator, Major General Stephen Day, special drought envoy Barnaby Joyce, and the drought summit, are window dressing.

We even have the Prime Minister retweeting ‘drought is good as it weeds out the bottom 10 per cent’.

Cash is king in a drought because your income drops and your feed costs go through the roof and the Australian Government loans, farm management deposits and household support look like they might only be reaching a very small number of farmers.

The appointment of the national drought co-ordinator, Major General Stephen Day, special drought envoy Barnaby Joyce, and the drought summit, are window dressing.

The National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson recently posted on Facebook that the average of the FMD is $107,000.

While some farmers might have more than one of these accounts, those would be the exception rather than the rule, so most who have tried to prepare financially still have only accumulated a modest amount.

Further, only 2000 farmers have accessed the Farm Household Allowance, which proves the concern expressed when the measure was established.

That is, if the household support was run through Centrelink, farmers would not access it because of the stigma of getting the dole and the fact that farm businesses are complicated.

Centrelink staff would not understand how we operate.

The NSW Government drought integrity advisor, Derek Shoen, meanwhile, has reported the millions of dollars donated into the buy-a-bale programs has distorted the hay market.

He has received stories of farmers being gazumped by these charities, which are paying ridiculous amounts for fodder, and in turn driving up the price. 

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There are also stories emerging of some of these charities paying high salaries and buying of houses as offices.

The Australian Government, and Nationals particularly, have been tardy in putting real help in place during what is an exceptional circumstance situation – no matter how you try and paint it.

The ABC Four Corners program, aired on Monday night, showed the level of angst in farming families.

The time has come to offer the concessional interest rate savings to all farmers carrying debt, not just those who can afford loans.

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