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States must sign debt plan says NFF

By rural reporters, Friday July 12, 2013 - 10:58 EST

Victoria has become the second state to sign up to the Federal Government's farm finance package.

Farmers in that state will be eligible for concessional loans of up to $650,000.

Overall, the plan will provide $60 million in concessional loans over two years to support farmers struggling with debt.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh says farmers struggling with debt can apply for the loans from Monday.

"Our officials from the Rural Finance Corporation have been working very hard this week, working positively together. All the systems are in place to start immediately," he said.

Not everyone agrees the package is what farmers need.

In south-west Victoria, cows are suffering without enough feed, after a record hot and dry summer.

Colac mayor Lyn Russell says the package could prolong the agony for farmers.

"A lot of farmers have got bigger, they've got big debts, they've got big overheads and that's not going to disappear in 12 months or two years that this scheme is going to exist."

Vice-president of the National Farmers Federation, Brent Finlay, says the other states and territories must now jump on board with the package.

Queensland was the first state to sign up to the plan, which was offered two months ago. New Federal Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and Queensland minister John McVeigh signed it in central Queensland yesterday.

Mr Finlay says while some details of the package are yet to be known, the deal is a step in the right direction.

"I think there is a suite of options for producers, not one particular one will suit everyone, here is another one... it's a start," he said.

"Market access is the long-term solution.

"We need to have strong markets for our products and we have to continue to work towards that."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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