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Working together through drought ... and beyond.



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BACK Home | Media Releases DAFF06/071SL- 27 N

Working together through drought… and beyond

Key finance, agriculture and government experts gathered in Canberra last week for the latest meeting of the Agriculture Finance Forum chaired by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Sussan Ley.

Ms Ley said she was heartened by the spirit of cooperation at the Forum, and the willingness of all parties to find practical ways of helping farmers and rural business in difficulty.

“The Forum heard the latest forecasts on commodities, as well as the prospects for a break in the drought,” she said.

There was strong agreement that a recovery will take place and that the sector needs to be ready to move forward.

“The Forum was also briefed on the benefits of the newly improved Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) programme and the important job being done by the counsellors.

“And I welcome a commitment from the finance sector at today’s Forum to develop even stronger relationships with the RFCS programme, helping farmers to be better placed to survive the drought.”

Ms Ley said that the Forum was also briefed on the Australian Government’s comprehensive drought assistance. For full details visit www.daff.gov.au.

“The Forum agreed that further cooperation, and a greater exchange of ideas and information between banks, government and industry, would boost understanding of the Government’s assistance measures in rural communities. That will help farm families to not just survive the drought, but also plan for a more prosperous future once it lifts.

“And collaboration between the Australian Bankers Association (ABA) and the Grain Growers Association has seen the release of a revised edition of Financing Your Farm - A Practical Guide to Financial Growth.”

Two key chapters of the book have been published on the ABA web site (www.bankers.asn.au), and a copy of the book will also be donated to each Rural Financial Counsellor.

Ms Ley said this latest Forum, perhaps more than most, has shown the value of working together.

“There was a genuine willingness on behalf of the three sectors to work together to help people understand and deal with their situations, and plan for a better future,” she said.

“The finance sector is playing an important role by working with rural communities and farmers to help improve their long-term management practices and financial skills; I am keen to see what has been achieved between the sectors when the AFF formally convenes again in the first half of next year.

“The Government also has a range of measures to complement the efforts of the finance and agriculture sectors, including Farm Management Deposits, FarmBis and the RFCS.”

Ms Ley said that some farmers are, unfortunately, still reluctant to ask for help; or perhaps are not aware of what’s available; or believe they are not eligible.

“Forum members were unanimous in calling for farmers battling drought not to self assess,” she said. “There’s a wide range of assistance available to those who need it — call the Centrelink Drought Hotline on 13 23 16.”

Further media inquiries:

Ms Ley's office: Verity Williams 02 6277 4503 or 0428 213 264

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http://www.psmaff.gov.au/releases/06/06070sl.html

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