More support for financial counselling in drought-stricken regions

Farmers battling drought will continue to be supported by free financial counselling with an extra $920,000 in funding for Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) providers in regional areas in South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce and Liberal Senator for South Australia Sean Edwards said a total of $1.8 million has been delivered to extend financial counselling assistance for up to 500 additional drought affected farmers in 2015-16.

Senator Edwards said he was pleased that South Australia would receive $160,000 as part of this additional support.

Senator Edwards said this latest funding boost for the RFCS has been allocated taking into consideration evolving drought conditions to ensure service providers will have skilled staff available to help farmers when they need it.

“There are a number of areas across South Australia experiencing prolonged drought and it is vital that we provide the funding necessary to meet increased demand for RFCS services that might not be met within existing resources,” Senator Edwards said.

“Times of drought can put severe pressure on both farm and household budgets and the RFCS has been providing valuable free financial counselling services to rural communities since 1986.

“The RFCS can support farmers with business planning, farm debt mediation and help them access sources of professional, industry and government assistance,” he said.

Minister Joyce said these funds are in addition to the $14.3 million Commonwealth funding already allocated to the RFCS programme in 2015-16 and complements the considerable assistance the Coalition Government has delivered to farmers and communities impacted by drought.

“Since coming to government we have invested more than $590 million in assistance and support for Australian farmers and rural communities experiencing drought and other hardship—with over $400 million approved in concessional loans to around 750 farm businesses and over 5,600 claims for Farm Household Allowance (FHA) granted.

“In addition, the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper makes available nearly $3 billion over the next 10 years providing farming families, farm businesses and rural communities with greater certainty about how and when the government will help them to prepare for, manage through, and recover from drought,” Minister Joyce said today.

 

For more information on the range of assistance available to farmers, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance

To get in touch with the RFCS visit: agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/assistancerural-financial-counselling-service