A peak farmers’ lobby group is examining the possibility of administering the federal government’s farm finance package outside of the state, amid concerns the lifeline could get derailed by the state government.
The federal government announced earlier this week it would offer low-interest loans up to $650,000 to farmers over the next two years, to help restructure their debts and increase productivity.
The WA Farmers Federation today called on the Barnett government to ratify an agreement with the federal government, to ensure the loan process does not get bound up with administrative red tape.
WAFarmers president Dale Park also urged the state government to roll more resources into the Rural Business Development Corporation to ensure a timely rollout of the finance package.
But Mr Park said WAFarmers attempts to contact Premier Colin Barnett and Agriculture Minister Ken Baston had not been fruitful.
“The Premier’s office has not responded,” Mr Park said.
“It would appear their public responses to date suggest a misunderstanding of the federal package. The only word from the state government appears to be it is concerned about taking on the liability for bad loans and the cost of administration.
“This is federal government funding, so if the loans cannot be repaid, the risk is the federal government’s.
“The only involvement the state government has is administering the loans and the cost of the administration process.”
Mr Park said WAFarmers was also investigating its options around administering the package outside of WA.
“The Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority does have the ability to administer programs outside of Queensland ad we are investigating the possibility they could administer the scheme in Western Australia so our farmers can access the funds,” he said.