Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says farmers hit by drought will be able to get access to cheap government loans very soon.
Drought-hit farmers will start receiving funds from a $280 million pool set up by the federal government to provide cheap loans as soon as next week.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says the drought concessional loans scheme will reach farmers in “very early June”, three months after it was announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
It had been delayed by negotiations on who could access the loans and how the states would administer them, as the government formulated a new, nationally-consistent definition of drought with the states and the Bureau of Meteorology.
“The problem (was) where one person literally on one side of the fence was in, the other farmer on the other side of the fence was out,” Mr Joyce told ABC radio on Friday.
“I can see this scenario happening, so I went into negotiations to see it wouldn’t happen.”
In February, the prime minister announced a $320 million drought package after visiting drought-hit parts of NSW and Queensland.
It included income support, extra social services and the $280 million pool for cheaper loans.
During a senate estimates hearing on Thursday night, agriculture department officials said loans to farmers could start flowing within weeks.