The government’s white paper on agriculture will look at the hot-topic issue of improving farmers’ access to finance, as debt levels soar past $60 billion.
Improving farmers’ access to finance is among a number of key policy issues the federal government will probe in a new white paper.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce on Thursday released a list of issues the government will investigate in its Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, which is due at the end of the year.
It will look into ways to improve farmers’ access to finance, farm debt levels and debt sustainability.
The government is inviting feedback on ways to help farmers attract private capital, innovative financing models, and alternative business structures that won’t mean farmers lose ownership of their property.
The paper will also consider the sensitive issue of foreign investment as a way to help drive productivity growth by exposing domestic farming firms to new technologies and techniques.
It was important to consider new funding models because reliance on debt was unsustainable with rural debt hitting $64 billion in 2012-13, the paper said.
The release of the paper comes amid calls for an urgent drought assistance package to help struggling farmers in northern NSW and Queensland, which Mr Joyce is taking to cabinet.
Besides finance, the white paper will also look at drought management strategies, food security, rural jobs growth and enhancing agricultural exports.
The National Farmers Federation welcomed the release of the report, saying it supported a commitment towards stable, long-term policy.
Submissions to the paper are due by April 17.